Summer Gazpacho

This recipes was contributed by shareholder, Erika Zeros. Especially great when made in advance and chilled well! I added a few notes for variation.

Perfect for high summer when the tomatoes are going crazy and it's too hot to cook! If multi-colored tomatoes are available be sure to include a few and chop them for beautiful contrast.

Makes about 10 cups

1 medium-sized cucumber
5 pounds vine-ripened tomatoes
1 medium-sized red onion, diced, about 1 C (white onion or scallions will work)
1 or 2 jalapeno or serrano chilies, seeded and minced.
1/4 C chopped fresh basil (can go with cilantro for a different flavor)
Salt and pepper
2 or 3 T Champagne or white wine vinegar

minced garlic (if desired)

A few basil leaves for garnish.

1. Peel the cucumber, cut in half lengthwise, and scoop out the seeds. Dice and set aside.
2. Peel the tomatoes. (Boiling water method: Score the bottom of each tomato with an X. Drop into boiling water for about 10 seconds, just long enough to loosen their skins. Rinse under cold water to cool them, then slip off the skins.) Cut tomatoes in half and take out the core. Place a mesh strainer over a bowl. Over the strainer, squeeze out the juice and seeds. Save the juice to add to the soup and discard the seeds.
3. Puree half of the tomatoes in a blender or food processor and coarsely chop the rest. Combine all of the tomatoes, tomato juice, onion, cucumber, chilies, and basil in a large bowl. Scoop out about 3 cups of the combined soup and return to the blender to puree. Return puree to the large bowl.
4. Season with 2 teaspoons salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, 2 tablespoons vinegar and stir well.
5. Refrigerate and let sit for at least 1 hour before serving, to allow flavors to develop. Add salt, pepper, and more vinegar if needed. Serve chilled. Garnish with fresh basil leaves.

Tip: if the soup is too acidic, add a few pinches of sugar to balance the flavors before serving.