I remember as a young girl growing up in the fifties that red wine vinegar and olive oil were mainstays on the kitchen table. My mom was a wonderful cook who made meals from scratch. And after her trip to Europe, she would often dish up dishes with an Italian and Spanish flair.
Fast forward to my life in San Carlos, California. I was befriended by an elderly cultured harpist (and my landlord) who had a strong love for the European people and lifestyle. She often took me to European restaurants in the San Francisco Bay Area. And, it was she who introduced me to Salvatore's Restaurant and Chef Salvatore, a wonderful cook from Sicily who cooked up memorable and hearty European cuisine.
Cut out the stems of 4 tomatoes (1 pound) and cut a small "x" on the bottom of each one. Place tomatoes in boiling water for 15-30 seconds, depending on ripeness. Remove tomatoes with slotted spoon and immediately plunge into ice water ang gently pull away the skin. Cut tomatoes in half and squeeze out the seeds and dice. For added flavor, saute diced tomatoes in 2 ounces of olive oil with a teaspoon of chopped garlic. Set aside to cool.
Puree all ingredients except the tomato juice. Adjust the consistency and flavor with the tomato juice (or consomme). Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper and garnish with a very small dice of red and green bell pepper, cucumber, and tomato along with small seasoned croutons. A teaspoon of the diced vegetables and a few crouton are ideal. Makes 1/2 gallon.
(Recipe by Chef Salvatore J Campagna; excerpted from The Healing Powers of Vinegar, Revised and Updated published by Kensington and available on http://www.amazon.com/ and http://www.barnesandnoble/ .)
Serve with warm whole wheat French bread dipped in extra virgin olive oil, and a spinach salad splashed with red wine vinegar.