Every time I'm faced with a chilled soup, I remember a cruise vacation we went on. At dinner, we were seated with another couple who hadn't spent much time outside their small home town. When the soup arrived - vichyssoise - of course it was chilled, just as it said on the menu.
The fellow took one taste of the soup, and loudly proclaimed, "this soup is COLD!" His wife shushed him and explained that the soup was supposed to be cold.
Now, I'm not making fun of him. There's a first time for everything, and if you're used to hot soups, encountering a cold one would certainly be a bit of a shock. It was actually sort of cute, and once he was assured that the cook hadn't screwed up, he dived right in and ate the soup. But it's become sort of a buzz-phrase in our house for those times when something new and strange ends up on the plate.
There are probably a billion recipes for gazpacho, including some that have no resemblance at all to the original dish. This one is at least sort of related. And, if I say so myself, it's pretty darned tasty.
If you don't have exactly these ingredients, you can substitute. No romas? Use regular tomatoes. Use a few pickling cucumbers instead of the English. Or use a regular cucumber (seed it first, if the seeds are tough). Make it the way you like it.
4 large roma tomatoes
1 English cucumber
1/2 medium onion
1 red bell pepper
Stale bread (about the size of a dinner roll)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons sherry or wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
Cut the tomato in quarters and put it in your blender. Peel the cucumber, cut it in chunks, and add it to the blender. Cut the onion in chunks and add it to the blender. Core the pepper and remove the seeds and add it to the blender.
Soak the bread in water if it's hard. Add it to the blender. Add the olive oil, vinegar, and salt. Blend until the mixture is as smooth as you can get it. Taste for seasoning and add more salt or vinegar, if needed.
Strain though a fine strainer. You might not end up with much left in the strainer, but the resulting mixture will be a lot smoother. Chill completely before serving. Actually, I think it's better the next day.
Taste again after it is cold, and adjust seasonings again, if necessary.
Serve chilled. Garnish with croutons or with diced cucumbers, if you like..