When tomatoes are ripe try a colorful cold soup

Most likely the rich, velvety-smooth cold soup known as gazpacho would not be as popular if we still had to use mortar and pestle to make it. With a food processor or blender, it takes only a few minutes today. Even so, it's still best to hand-chop a few vegetables for garnish.

There are about 30 versions of this wonderfully cooling dish, including a white gazpacho made with blanched almonds, and a green version using green tomatoes and peppers.

Basic red is the most popular and it should be chilled several hours in advance for best results. Gazpacho 3 slices French bread 4 ripe tomatoes, peeled, chopped 1 cucumber, peeled, chopped 2 or 3 cloves garlic, peeled, chopped 2 medium green peppers, chopped 2 cups water 2 cups beef stock or broth 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar 3 tablespoons olive oil 1 tablespoon fresh basil, optional 2 teaspoons salt or to taste 1 green pepper, minced 1 large tomato, peeled, seeded, diced 1 cucumber, minced 1 cup garlic-flavored croutons

Combine ingredients listed down to and including salt. Let sit 1 hour, then puree in blender and chill. Serve very cold with chopped vegetable and croutons as condiments in separate bowls for self-service.

Extra ingredients for variation may include fresh basil, a teaspoon of ground cumin, toasted almonds, or yogurt instead of broth.

We want to hear, did we miss an angle we should have covered? Should we come back to this topic? Or just give us a rating for this story. We want to hear from you.