Hand-cut vegetables marinated in seasoned vinegar are the key to this stellar gazpacho.
Chopping the vegetables by hand ensured they retained their color and firm texture. Letting them sit briefly in a sherry vinegar marinade guaranteed well-seasoned vegetables, while a combination of tomato juice and ice cubes (which helped chill the soup) provided the right amount of liquid.
Chilling our soup for a minimum of 4 hours was critical to allow the flavors to develop and meld. Use a Vidalia, Maui, or Walla Walla onion here. This recipe makes a large quantity because the leftovers are so good, but it can be halved if you prefer.
Traditionally, diners garnish their gazpacho with more of the same diced vegetables that are in the soup, so cut some extra vegetables when you prepare those called for in the recipe.
Serve with croutons, chopped pitted black olives, chopped hard-cooked eggs, and finely diced avocados. For a finishing touch, serve in chilled bowls.
Start to finish: 4 hours
1 1/2 pounds tomatoes, cored and cut into ¼-inch dice
2 red bell peppers, stemmed, seeded, and cut into ¼-inch dice
2 small cucumbers (1 cucumber peeled, both sliced lengthwise, seeded, and cut into 1/4-inch dice)
1/2 small sweet onion or 2 large shallots, minced
1/3 cup sherry vinegar
2 garlic cloves, minced
Salt and pepper
5 cups tomato juice
8 ice cubes
1 teaspoon hot sauce (optional)
Extra-virgin olive oil
Combine tomatoes, bell peppers, cucumbers, onion, vinegar, garlic, and 2 teaspoons salt in large (at least 4-quart) bowl and season with pepper to taste. Let stand until vegetables just begin to release their juices, about 5 minutes. Stir in tomato juice, ice cubes, and hot sauce, if using. Cover and refrigerate to blend flavors, at least 4 hours or up to 2 days.
Discard any unmelted ice cubes and season soup with salt and pepper to taste. Serve cold, drizzling individual portions with oil.