Since tomatoes are in season right now, I implore you to give this a go. For those of you trying to go bread-free or who need to be gluten-free, feel free to skip the bread, or use some gluten-free bread instead. Also, I realize that quality vinegar is expensive, but a little will go a long way and it should last you awhile. If you can swing it, definitely spring for something quality – you will notice it in the taste!
1 (3-inch-long) piece baguette, crust cut off
2 garlic cloves
2 tbsp salt
2 tbsp quality Sherry vinegar (“reserva” if you have it), or to taste
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp ground cumin (optional)
2 to 2 1/2 lb ripe tomatoes, cored and quartered (don’t throw out the part you core, use it to make tomato sauce!)
1/2 cup mild extra-virgin olive oil
Garnish: finely chopped red and green bell peppers (optional)
Soak bread in 1/2 cup water for about a minute, squeeze it dry and set it aside. You won’t need the water anymore, you can just throw it away.
Using a mortar and pestle, mash the garlic and the salt to a paste, until you get smooth, uniform consistency.
In a food processor, blend the garlic paste, the soaked bread, vinegar, sugar, cumin and about 1/2 of the tomatoes, until everything is very finely chopped. Add the rest of the tomatoes. When everything is finely chopped and uniform, slowly add the olive oil in a steady drizzle. Blend the soup as smooth as possible – about 2 minutes.
[Traditionally, you would force the soup through a sieve or a chinois, into a bowl, pressing on solids and then discarding the solids afterward. However, I find that I like my gazpacho more rustic and chunky and so I say, forget the chinois!]
Transfer to a glass container and chill, covered, until cold, about 3 hours. Season with salt and vinegar before serving. If you happen to make it on a weeknight and don’t have the 3 hours chilling time, feel free to eat immediately!