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½ of a small red onion, chopped, about 1 cup
1 small clove garlic, chopped
½ of a small jalapeño pepper, seeded, ribs removed, or more to taste, optional
2 pounds red, orange or yellow cherry tomatoes, about 4 pint baskets 2/3 of an English cucumber, unpeeled
1 large red, yellow or orange bell pepper, seeded, ribs removed, chopped
1 ½ teaspoons fine sea salt
2 teaspoons sherry vinegar or red-wine vinegar
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil

Optional Toppings:
Chopped fresh basil or mint
Croutons, regular or gluten free
Small diced cucumbers, bell peppers, cherry tomatoes.
A drizzle of plain or herb infused olive oil

Make the gazpacho:
        If desired, place the onion, garlic and the jalepeno, if using, in a small bowl, and cover with cold water. Let sit a few minutes, drain and cover with more cold. Drain again, and add to a blender jar. Or skip soaking step and add directly to the blender.
        Add the tomatoes, cucumber, bell pepper, salt and sherry vinegar. Blend at high speed until completely smooth, about 2 minutes. With the blender running on a slower speed, slowly drizzle in the olive oil. It will become creamy and emulsified. (If your blender is smaller, blend it in batches drizzling in 1/4 cup of the oil into each batch, and combine.) Taste and adjust for seasoning, adding the extra salt and vinegar, if desired.
        Chill for at least an hour, up to overnight. Before serving. if it is too thick, you can thin it with a few tablespoons of water, and taste again for seasoning, again adding more salt and vinegar if desired.
        Serve in a bowl with toppings or in chilled glasses straight up with a drizzle of extra olive oil. Will keep in the fridge for up to 3 days.

Makes 6 one cup servings.      YUM!

LESSONS Learned:
1. A high speed blender makes this quick work with no straining required to get that creamy texture. But a regular one will work too, just press the soup through a sieve to strain out any solids.
2. I am not a fan of the sharp bite of raw onions and garlic (and jalapeno), so I like to soak the chopped pieces in cold water for a few minutes to lessen that. But you can skip that step, if you enjoy the raw versions.
3. I like English cucumbers because they’re sweeter, and they don’t need to be seeded or peeled. But seeded, peeled regular ones will work too.