Pappa al Pomodoro – Tomato and Bread Soup

Pappa al Pomodoro – Tomato and Bread Soup
Adapted from Zuppe by Mona Talbott

Committee meeting working lunch, 8/1/12

This Italian tomato and bread soup is a perfect way to use stale bread and tomatoes that are beginning to get a little soft – combined, these older ingredients turn delicious again.

1 lb bread – the staler, the better
4 lbs tomatoes – overripe is fine*
6 tablespoons olive oil, divided between cooking onions and final addition
2 onions, finely chopped*
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped*
1 1/2 cups basil leaves, loosely packed, then roughly chopped*
salt
6 cups chicken or vegetable stock (or water in a pinch)
grated or shredded parmesan cheese (not from a can)

Remove tough crusts from the bread and cut it into 1 inch cubes. If the bread isn’t very stale yet, leave the cubes out for up to 24 hours to get really hard.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. In the meantime, prepare a large bowl of ice water. To peel the tomatoes, drop half of them into boiling water for 1 minute (the skin will begin to pop open), and then transfer to ice water. Repeat with the rest of the tomatoes. Allow to cool for a few minutes, then peel. Chop into 1-inch pieces.

In a large pot, heat 3 tablespoons oil. Add onions and garlic and cook on medium heat for about 5 minutes. Add basil and cook for 5 minutes more, until onions are translucent but not browned.

Add tomatoes and cook over medium-high heat for 10 minutes. Then add chicken stock, bring to a boil, and reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer 30 minutes.

Add bread to the soup and then turn off the heat. Allow to sit for 20-30 minutes for the bread to absorb the liquid. Taste and add salt if needed. Add the remaining 3 tablespoons oil and stir to mush up the bread and combine everything. Reheat if desired. Serve, sprinkling each portion with parmesan cheese.

Serves 6.

*Tomatoes, basil, garlic, and onions are all things you can grow in your garden.

Note: the longer this sits, the more liquid the bread will absorb. So it may become less soupy and more stew-like, but it will be just as delicious.

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