This chilled soup comes together in a flash and makes a lovely light dinner on a hot summer evening. Use the best-quality ingredients you can find, including vine-ripened heirloom tomatoes. The soup needs to be refrigerated for at least 1 hour before serving to allow the flavors to develop, so plan accordingly.
1/2 red onion, chopped
3 lb. heirloom tomatoes, cored and chopped
1 1/2 cucumbers, peeled, seeded and chopped
1/2 tsp. plus 1 Tbs. kosher salt, plus more, to taste
5 tsp. fresh lemon juice
4 Tbs. olive oil
2 tsp. minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
2 garlic cloves
1/2 tsp. minced fresh thyme
2 Tbs. sherry vinegar
2 cups cubed French bread
1 large red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
Crème fraîche for garnish (optional)
In a small bowl, stir together 1/2 cup of the onion, 1 cup of the tomatoes, 3/4 cup of the cucumbers, the 1/2 tsp. salt, 1 tsp. of the lemon juice, 1 Tbs. of the olive oil, the parsley and pepper. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve.
In a Vitamix blender, combine the remaining onion with the remaining 4 tsp. lemon juice, the 1 Tbs. salt, the garlic, thyme, vinegar and bread. Turn the blender on, slowly increase the speed to the highest setting and blend until smooth, stopping the blender to scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Add half of the remaining tomatoes, cucumbers and bell pepper and blend until completely smooth, about 1 minute. Transfer to a large bowl. Blend the remaining tomatoes, cucumbers and bell pepper until smooth. Transfer to the bowl and season with pepper. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 1 day.
Just before serving, transfer the soup to the blender. With the blender set on the lowest setting, slowly stream in the remaining 3 Tbs. olive oil and blend for 1 minute. Adjust the seasonings with salt and pepper.
Ladle the gazpacho into bowls. Garnish each portion with a heaping spoonful of the diced vegetables and a dollop of crème fraîche. Serves 4 to 6.