Three slices of while bread or half of a baguette with crusts removed
Half cup of extra virgin olive oil
Two cloves garlic, pressed
Three pounds ripe tomatoes (Big Boy, Wisconsin 55, or other round variety), cored and roughly chopped. Skins may be left on (more flavor) or removed (less acid)
One cucumber, peeled and chopped
One medium onion, quartered
Handful of flat-leaf (Italian) parsley
Salt to taste
Red wine vinegar to taste
Into a stone or glass bowl that holds three or more quarts, crumb bread between your fingers; add olive oil and garlic. Add a bit of water, perhaps 1/4 cup. Let stand a few hours or overnight.
In a blender or food processor, combine tomatoes, cucumber, onion, and parsley. Then, add vegetables to bread crumbs and mix thoroughly. Season to taste with salt and red wine vinegar. You may substitute regular white distilled vinegar but do not use balsamic vinegar, which overwhelms the fresh taste. Somewhere in each mouthful of soup, you should taste, if only faintly, the salt and vinegar. Chill for several hours.
Traditional garnishes are sliced hardboiled eggs, sliced avocados, sliced red onion, steamed and peeled shrimp, sliced cucumbers, diced tomatoes, and/or parsley. Cold lager beer and crusty bread are good accompaniments. Pass vinegar and olive oil cruets on table.