2 lbs. very ripe, fresh tomatoes
1 lb. fresh, red bell peppers
1 1/2 average-size cucumbers
2 small white onions
2 cloves of garlic
6 oz. can of tomato paste
1 T. sugar
1 T. salt
Tabasco (to taste)
1/2 c. olive oil
1/2 c. balsamic vinegar
1/2 bunch fresh mint leaves (remove leaves from woody stems)
Plunge the tomatoes into boiling water for a few seconds or hold them over a gas flame to char the skin. When cool enough to handle, remove the skin. Cut the tomatoes in half (crosswise) and squeeze out the seeds over a sieve (to catch the juices). Coarsely chop the tomato pulp. (Reserve the juices and add to the final mixture after processing through the blender.)
Broil the whole peppers in the oven on a flat baking sheet (cover the sheet with aluminum foil for easy clean up). Turn the peppers every few minutes so that the skin is evenly charred on all sides. Remove them from the oven and place the charred peppers in a plastic bag or paper bag. Close the bag opening and let the peppers sit (steam) about 30 minutes, or until cool enough to handle. When cool, remove from the bag and carefully peel off the charred skin. Then cut each pepper in half (lengthwise) and remove the seeds. Coarsely chop the roasted pepper flesh.
Peel the cucumber, cut in half lengthwise and remove seeds from each half with a teaspoon. Coarsely chop the pulp.
Cut the baguette into slices and arrange in one layer on flat cookie sheet. Drizzle the olive oil and balsamic vinegar evenly over all the slices until they are thoroughly saturated. Set aside for at least 30 minutes so the crust will become moist.
Making the Gazpacho:
Put handful of tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, a few pieces of onion, a few baguette slices, some mint and garlic into the blender and process until very smooth. (Don't worry about the balance of each small batch. The batches are mixed together, so the flavors will balance out at the end.) If the texture is not smooth enough for you, then pass the pureed mixture through a medium-mesh sieve. Continue in the same way until all of the ingredients have been processed. Mix all the batches together.
Add salt, pepper and Tabasco to taste (the soup should have a nice kick).
Keep chilled in the refrigerator until ready to serve.