Makes about 3 quarts, serving 8 to 10

Traditionally, diners garnish their gazpacho with more of the same diced vegetables that are in the soup, so cut some extra vegetables when you prepare those called for in the recipe.  Additional garnish possibilities include simple garlic croutons, chopped pitted black olives, chopped hard-cooked eggs, and finely diced avocados.  For a finishing touch, serve in chilled bowls.

3 ripe medium beefsteak tomatoes (about 11/2 pounds), cored and cut into 1/4-inch cubes  (about 4 cups)
2 small red bell peppers (about 1 pound), cored, seeded, and cut into 1/4-inch cubes (about 2 cups)
2 small cucumbers (about 1 pound), one peeled and the other with skin on, both seeded and cut into 1/4-inch cubes (about 2 cups)
1/2 small sweet onion (such as Vidalia, Maui, or Walla Walla) or 2 large shallots, peeled and minced (about 1/2 cup)
2 medium garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons salt
1/3 cup sherry vinegar
Ground black pepper
5 cups tomato juice, preferably Welch’s
1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce (optional)
8 ice cubes
Extra-virgin olive oil for serving

Combine tomatoes and their juices, bell peppers, cucumbers, onion, garlic, salt, vinegar, and pepper to taste in large (at least 4-quart) nonreactive bowl; let stand until vegetables just begin to release their juices, about 5 minutes.  Stir in tomato juice, hot pepper sauce, if using, and ice cubes; cover tightly and refrigerate to blend flavors, at least 4 hours.  Adjust seasonings with salt and pepper, remove and discard any unmelted ice cubes, and serve cold, drizzling each portion with about 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil and with desired garnishes (see note). ( Can be covered and refrigerated up to 2 days.)

-Erin Wulff

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