3 pounds ripe tomatoes, coarsely chopped (about 8 cups)
4 (1/2-inch-thick) slices stale, crusty bread, soaked in water for 1 minute and squeezed dry
2 medium cucumbers, peeled, seeded and chopped (about 2 cups)
1 small red pepper, seeded and chopped (about 1 cup)
1/3 cup packed fresh basil leaves
2 tablespoons finely chopped green onion tops
1 clove garlic, halved
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin, toasted lightly in a dry skillet
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse sea salt, plus more to taste
Freshly ground black pepper
1 cup cold water
5 tablespoons good sherry vinegar
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Makes 4 to 6 servings.
Puree all the ingredients in a blender until smooth and the texture of thick tomato juice. (Work in batches if needed to keep from overloading the blender.) Strain through a food mill or sieve to remove skins and seeds.
Chill overnight and taste, adding more oil, vinegar or salt if needed. Will keep refrigerated for several days. Serve in chilled glasses for sipping or in bowls topped with toasted croutons and a garnish of more chopped tomato, cucumber, bell pepper and/or green onions.