So today's recipe is a traditional Tuscan bread soup, Pappa al Pomodoro, which is essentially a base of bread & tomatoes. It's incredibly easy, and oh so hearty & delicious. There are many versions of Pappa al Pomodoro around, but my favorite is from Ina Garten's cookbook, Barefoot Contessa Back To Basics. Nontraditional versions of this soup use butter & cream, which is still divine, but Ina sticks to using wine, vegetables & basil for lots of authentic flavor. Jeff & I just love it!
- 1/2 cup good olive oil
- 2 yellow onions, chopped
- 3 carrots, medium diced & unpeeled
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 fennel bulb, trimmed, cored & medium diced
- 3 cups (1 inch) diced ciabatta bread, crusts removed
- 2 (28 oz) cans good Italian plum tomatoes*
- 4 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
- 1/2 cup dry red wine
- 1 cup chopped fresh basil
- 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan
- kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper
For The Topping:
- 3 cups (1 inch) diced ciabatta bread
- 2 oz thickly sliced pancetta, chopped
- 24-30 whole fresh basil leaves
- 3 TB good olive oil, plus more for serving
- Heat the oil in a large stockpot over medium heat. Add the onions, carrots, fennel, garlic and cook over med-low heat for 10 mins, until tender. Add the ciabatta cubes and cook for 5 mins.
- Process the plum tomatoes until coarsely chopped. Add the tomatoes to your stockpot then add in the chicken stock, red wine, basil, 1 TB kosher salt, 2 tsp pepper. Bring the soup to a boil, then lower the heat & allow to simmer, partially covered for 45 mins.
- Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
- For the topping, place the ciabatta, pancetta & basil on a sheet pan in a single layer. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt & pepper & toss well. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 20-25 mins, until crisp.
- Using a wire whisk, beat the soup (sounds strange right?) until the bread is broken up. Then stir in the parmesan & taste for seasoning. Serve hot, sprinkled with the topping and drizzled with olive oil.
*Note: Whenever possible & in-season, use fresh plum tomatoes. Otherwise the brand of canned tomates I prefer is Cento's San Marzano.
I've made Ina's soup 3 times now, but this last batch I chose not to serve with the pancetta & bread topping. I omitted the topping only because I served the soup with grilled bacon & gruyere sandwiches on focaccia bread Friday night. More bacon & bread just would've been overkill (i know - gasp!). With or without the topping though, this is just the ultimate tomato soup!
So what are some of your favorite winter soups and comfort foods? Feel free to leave the recipes as well :) Have a fantastic week everybody!
Mangia Mangia y'all!!