When it's sweltering outside, nothing beats gazpacho, Spain's cold vegetable soup. I found this recipe during my college days (in Myra Waldo's Complete Book of Vegetable Cookery) and have stuck with it ever since; I never had any better. One critical ingredient is Spanish paprika. Look for a "picante" or spicy kind, especially one make with smoked peppers. This version offers just the right amount of heat and its smoky flavor provides an subtle undercurrent to the soup that's truly addictive. If you're strapped for time, use a 28 oz. can of whole peeled tomatoes. It's not heresy, and you'll be guaranteed the proper ripeness. Try it with a refreshing, low alcohol vinho verde from Portugal or an albariño from Spain.
1-1/2 pounds ripe tomatoes, peeled
2 cloves garlic
1/2 cup diced onions
1-1/2 cup diced green peppers
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 wine vinegar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1-1/2 cups ice water
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon Spanish paprika (preferably smoked)
1 cucumber, peeled and diced
1/4 cup chopped onion
optional: 3/4 cup croutons
Be sure the tomatoes are quite ripe; peel them. Puree the tomatoes, garlic, diced onions, and 1 cup green peppers in an electric blender. Gradually add the olive oil, beating all the while, then stir in the vinegar, lemon juice, water, salt, pepper, and paprika. Chill 2 hours (not in a metal bowl). Taste for seasoning.
Add the remaining green peppers, the cucumber, and chopped onion and mix. Serve cold with croutons.