As the summer comes to an end (gasp!) I do have lovely visions of alot less sweating and eating much more soup in the months ahead. I love soup, especially hearty ones. Last week there was a break, although brief, in the scorching hot temperatures and I jumped on the chance to make a soup…it’s been months since I’ve made any.
Pappa al Pomodoro is a Tuscan tomato and bread soup and lord knows I love love love anything and everything Tuscan. So smack dab in the middle of August, prime tomato time, I set out to whip up this soup and am so glad I did. It’s delicious! So delicious that you don’t mind eating it in the summer! One night I served this with a salad, the next night with a sandwich. I only wish we had more leftover to eat – you might want to double this recipe as it just gets better as it sits in the fridge.
As I mentioned above, this soup is quite hearty due to the bread, yet doesn’t feel heavy. The bread thickens the soup and gives it a slightly creamy texture without having to add any milk or cream, which makes me and my thighs very thankful. There is a bright tomato flavor with a slight tang in the background from the tomato juice as well as a little kick from the red pepper. And then the basil, cooked in with the tomatoes, and then more sprinkled on top just before serving. Doesn’t basil make so many things better?
Basically, this is Italy in a bowl. Turn on your air conditioners and get cooking!
Here’s what you will need to serve approximately 6 people…
1 large red onion, diced
large pinch red pepper flakes
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 cup white wine
2 pounds ripe, summer tomatoes, diced
20 basil leaves, 15 whole and 5 cut into chiffonade
2 cups tomato juice
1 1/2 – 2 cups day old whole wheat bread, crusts removed and cubed
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
Extra virgin olive oil
salt & pepper to taste
Coat a large wide pot with olive oil over medium heat, add the onions and red pepper and cook until soft, approximately 8 minutes. Add salt and pepper. Toss in the garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes. Add the wine and simmer until it has reduced by half. Stir in the tomatoes, add a bit more salt and pepper and cook over medium heat until the tomatoes break down and get very soft, approximately 15 minutes. Toss in 15 basil leaves and continue to simmer for another 5 minutes.
If you have an immersion blender, this is a perfect opportunity to use it. It will make your life so much easier, I promise. Basically just stick the immersion blender into the pot and puree the tomato mixture. Add the tomato juice and the bread cubes. Continue to cook the soup for another 15-20 minutes, allowing the bread to break down. Grab that immersion blender and puree the soup again, further breaking up the softened bread and incorporating it fully into the soup. If you would rather have chunks of bread in the soup you can go easy on the pureeing. I prefer having the bread more dissolved.
Taste the soup and add more salt and/or pepper if necessary. Ladle into bowls, garnish with fresh basil and sprinkle with as much grated cheese as you like. Lastly, drizzle a tiny bit of olive oil over the soup and serve.
This recipe is adapted from Anne Burrell