Tomato Bread Soup: Way Better Than Grandma Used to Make
I keep forgetting to post a recipe for one of my favorite soups – pappa al pomodoro, or tomato bread soup. I had a delicious bowl in Tuscany, very thick, topped with a generous drizzle of olive oil. Last weekend a craving popped up, as cravings tend to do, and I went digging for my recipe. Which I couldn’t find. But that’s what Google is for, and in no time I had a pot simmering away. It’s a great way to use lots of garden-fresh tomatoes, but short of possessing those, it’s terrific made with canned tomatoes too. (Recipe posted in comments, below.)
So, Bizarre Foods night at the Twins’ game last night was a blast (other than the Twins lost). We didn’t eat anything more unusual than kettle corn (Nathan loves it, for good reason, it’s freshly popped and pretty incredible, recipe here) and a hot dog. No complaints! We sat by lots of nice people (Andrew Z, his adorable son Noah, Noah’s adorable friend Sophie, Sophie’s very nice dad, and Andrew’s very nice in-laws) and one crazy dude (not part of the Bizarre Foods group, although he was certainly bizarre). Noah and Sophie went home the color of Smurfs, thanks to blue (!) snow cones. Nathan and I went home slightly blue ourselves, thanks to playing with Noah and Sophie. All in all, a Smurfy-fun night!
Moderate it: tomato bread soup can be over-the-top rich, or not rich at all, depending upon how much olive oil you use. I started with a little less than the recipe called for, and decided it was completely delicious without more drizzled on top. You decide.
Tomato and Bread Soup
Adapted from a recipe by Barbara Kafka on epicurious.com
Makes 6 cups (6 first-course servings)
four 3/4-inch-thick slices peasant bread
1/3 c. olive oil
3 medium cloves garlic, smashed, peeled, and sliced
1 medium onion, very finely chopped
14 large basil leaves, cut across into narrow strips
1 3/4 lbs. plum tomatoes, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch dice (I used a 28-oz. can of Muir Glen ground tomatoes; crushed tomatoes or whole tomatoes – diced – would work too)
4 c. chicken stock
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
good olive oil for serving
Heat the oven to 225 degrees F. Place the bread directly on the middle rack of the oven. Bake for 20-30 minutes, just to dry the bread out; do not brown. Break the bread into pieces.
Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, heat the oil over medium-low heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes. Stir in the basil and cook for 1 minute. Stir in the tomatoes and bring to a boil. Cook at a simmer for 15 minutes, stirring frequently.
Stir in the stock, bread, a bit of salt, and a few grinds of pepper. Return to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer, stirring and breaking up the bread with the back of a spoon for 15 minutes. The bread should break down to a mush. Remove the pan from the heat, cover, and let sit for 10 minutes. Season to taste with salt. Serve with a few grinds of fresh pepper, and drizzled with some good olive oil.