Spanish Gazpacho Soup

I first had Gazpacho in Miami as a boy. Growing up with an eccentric mom does have its advantages. She would seek out and introduce us to so many wonderful dishes. In all my travels throughout the world, it was very unusual for me not to have some reference provided by my interesting childhood and mom’s influence. If you add Gazpacho to enough Tapas – Boquerones, Braised Chorizo, Albondigas (meatballs), fine Spanish Hard cheeses, and pieces of wonderful hard crusted bread you could have yourself a time!

Ingredients:

10 oz of day old bread crust removed
2 cloves Garlic, Minced
1/2 whole Red Onion, Diced
1 whole Large Cucumber, Diced
5 whole Roma Tomatoes, Diced ( I use more tomatoes and less tomato juice)
1 whole Zucchini, Diced
2 stalks Celery, Diced
1/4 gallon Tomato Juice (I like to use V8 instead)
1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/8 cup Red Wine Vinegar ( l like the sherry vinegar)
2 Tablespoons White Sugar
6 dashes Tabasco
1/2 tsp Ground Cumin
Salt and Coarse Ground Black Pepper To Taste
Ciabatta rolls split, oiled and toasted on a grill
Garnish – 1 small Avocado (peeled, sliced); home made croutons, Cilantro leaves; sour cream; top with:
– Grilled Jumbo Shrimp or Boquerone or a piece of braised Spanish Chorizo

Directions:

1. Soak bread in water for about 10 min and then squeeze out as much water as possible. Add to a large bowl.
2. Combine the minced garlic with half the red onion, half the cucumber, half the tomato, half the zucchini, half the celery, half the tomato juice, olive oil, red wine vinegar, sugar, Tabasco, and a dash of salt in the bowl with the squeezed bread. Blend all (in shifts depending on the size of your food processor or blender using another large bowl to hold blended ingredients).
3. Pulse until all ingredients are blended well; mixture will have a nice speckled, colorful texture.
4. Add the rest of the tomato juice, and half of the remaining onion, cucumber, tomato, zucchini, and celery. (Reserve the rest of the diced vegetables for garnish.)
5. Stir mixture together and check seasonings, adding salt if needed.
6. Chill soup for at least a couple of hours; soup needs to be very cold!
7. Remove the soup from the fridge and stir. Check seasonings one last time. Ladle into bowls and garnish each with remaining diced vegetables, a sliver of fresh avocado, a dollop of sour cream, homemade croutons and cilantro. If you really want to dazzle,  place a grilled shrimp, braised chorizo or boquerone on the top and serve with grilled slices of bread.
8. Throw in an assortment of Tapas, some good wine or Sangria and this is a to-die-for summer dinner.