Gazpacho benefits from being made the day before and refrigerated overnight to allow the flavours to develop. It should be served ice-cold and sometimes has ice put into it just before it is brought to the table. This is not really a good idea, however, since the melting ice melts thins the soup and makes it watery.
Put the bread in a large bowl and cover with the tomato juice.
Plunge the plum tomatoes in boiling water for 20–30 seconds, refresh in cold water and skin. Cut them in quarters, strip out and discard the pips and the pulp. Cut the tomatoes into 1-cm / ½-inch dice.
Cut the red onion across into 5-mm / ¼-inch slices. Dice the roasted red pepper flesh. Peel the skin from the cucumber in strips and cut these strips lengthwise into 1-cm / ½-inch slices, then cut these into strips and finally cut those strips into dice. Dice the flesh. Peel and chop the garlic cloves as finely as you can.
Stir all these together with the tomatoes into the contents of the bowl. Add the Tabasco sauce and sherry vinegar. Season with salt and pepper (generously, as it is to be chilled). Cling-wrap the top and refrigerate for 6 hours or overnight.
To make the croutons: season the olive oil and toss the cubes of bread in it, then fry them gently in a non-stick pan until they are nicely crisp and a good golden brown.
Ladle the chilled gazpacho into 4–6 soup bowls and zig-zag the tops with some extra-virgin olive oil. Scatter over the croutons and some torn basil leaves to garnish.
© 1998 Alastair Little and Richard Whittington estate. All rights reserved.