a medium cucumber, or half an English cucumber, seeded
1 jalapeño, seeded, but keep the ribs if you want the heat
1 medium or half a large onion
1 medium green bell
vinegar (white or red wine)
day-old bread (optional)
Pick the tomatillos by the tautness of their paper skins. Really do seed the tomatoes, jalapeño and cucumbers--the seeds will give a musty flavor and a hard grain to the soup.
Cut up all the vegetables into medium chunks--about half an inch, smaller for the jalapeño--put them in a bowl, sprinkle on a good dose of salt, and mix them all together.
Cover the bowl and let it sit in the fridge for up to an hour. When you come back, a good deal of flavorful juice will have come out of the vegetables.
Put half of the mixture into a blender. Add a clove of garlic, minced, the juice of half a lime, and some tomato juice--just enough to moisten the mixture and get it moving, about a third of a cup. (Watch the salt here--if you get unsalted or low-sodium tomato juice, you can control the finished product better. I prefer pure tomato juice to V-8, for the same reason.) Add a bit of vinegar, to taste.
Pulse the mixture a few times to get it going, then blend as you drizzle in a few tablespoons of olive oil. Blend until it’s a consistency you like (it will not take long at all to get to the purée stage).
Pour the result into a big bowl that will fit in your fridge. Repeat with the second half of the mixture. Combine with the first batch.
Give the bowl a healthy grind of black pepper. Chill for at least two hours, until very cold. Overnight is better. Before serving, taste, and adjust salt, pepper, and vinegar/lime juice as necessary.
If you want more heat, add more jalapeño and/or a few dashes of cayenne. (You can blend another jalapeño with a little more tomato juice to make a paste, then stir it in.)
If you want a creamy effect, tear up some old white bread (french bread is OK too) and add to the vegetables before letting them sit.
If you like a chunkier gazpacho, use a food processor instead of a blender, and stir in the olive oil instead of blending it.
Switch out the lime for lemon for a brighter, if less complex, flavor. If the tomatillos aren’t to your liking, use a total of six plum tomatoes instead.