Native to Spain, where summers are blazing hot, this delicious chilled tomato-based soup refreshes like nothing else. Here at home, wherever there is the smallest patch of soil or sunny corner, you will find tomatoes growing during the summer. They get canned, frozen, squeezed, sliced, oven-dried, and stewed. For this ice-cold soup, use the ripest tomatoes picked fresh from the garden. If yellow tomatoes are unavailable, red ones work well in this dish.
4 pounds ripe yellow tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped
1 yellow or green bell pepper, seeded and coarsely chopped
1 medium-size red onion, coarsely chopped
1 large cucumber, peeled, halved, seeded, and coarsely chopped
6 tablespoons red wine vinegar
3 large garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 slice coarse-textured country-style bread, crusts removed, soaked in water, and squeezed dry
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 garlic cloves, crushed
6 slices white bread, crusts removed and cubed
1/4 cup diced green bell pepper
1/4 cup peeled, seeded, and chopped cucumber
11/2 cups red cherry tomatoes, quartered
1/4 cup diced red onion
For the soup, in a bowl, mix the tomatoes, bell pepper, onion, cucumber, vinegar, garlic, olive oil, and bread. In batches, puree the soup in a blender on high speed, about 3 minutes per batch, until very smooth. Strain through a coarse strainer into a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper, place in the refrigerator, and chill for 1 hour.
For the garnish, warm the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the crushed garlic and cook, stirring constantly, until the garlic is golden brown, about 1 minute. Remove the garlic and discard. Add the bread cubes and stir to coat with olive oil. Cook slowly, stirring occasionally, until the bread cubes are golden, 10 to 12 minutes.
To serve, ladle the chilled soup into bowls and garnish with the croutons, bell pepper, cucumber, tomatoes, and red onion. Serve immediately.