Gazpacho is a perfect first course for nearly anything you choose to serve in the heat of the summer — except for a tomato-based entrée. Gazpacho is one of those simple uncooked dishes where a quality olive oil makes a great deal of difference. So haul out that expensive extra-virgin olive oil you got as a present for your last birthday and let it pour!
Preparation time: 20 minutes, plus 2 hours chilling time
Yield: 4 servings
1 slice white bread, crusts removed
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
3 cups tomato juice, plus more if needed to thin the soup
6 pickling cucumbers
1 red bell pepper
2 cloves garlic
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 jalapeño chiles
1 teaspoon sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Place the bread on a plate, sprinkle it with the vinegar, and let sit until thoroughly moistened, 5 minutes.
Peel, seed, and dice the cucumbers.
Thinly slice the scallions.
Seed and dice the bell pepper.
Combine the tomato juice, cucumbers, scallions, and red pepper in a large bowl.
Transfer about 1/4 of the vegetable mixture to a blender or food processor.
Peel the garlic cloves.
Stem, seed, and chop the jalapeños.
Add the moistened bread, garlic, olive oil, jalapeños, sugar, salt, and pepper to the food processor.
Puree until smooth.
Pour the puree into the bowl with the vegetables.
Stir to combine.
Thin with more tomato juice, if desired, and adjust seasonings to taste.
Chill for at least 2 hours.
Serve cold and garnish with chives.