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A decade ago, when Jack and I were engaged to be married, we had plans to go to Tuscany on our honeymoon. Knowing our upcoming travel plans – and our love of cooking – some friends of mine from work gave us several wonderful Tuscan cookbooks as a wedding gift!
One of the very first recipes we made from those cookbooks was a wonderful Pappa al Pomodoro – or bread and tomato soup! In Italian, ‘pappa al pomodoro’ means ‘mush of tomato’ – and that is actually a perfect way to describe this amazingly delicious soup!
Pappa al pomodoro is a simple, rustic soup made from day old bread, fresh tomatoes, garlic, basil and extra virgin olive oil, and a very pleasant, simple stock called Brodo. Brodo is a stock made from veal or beef bones, a boiling fowl or chicken, and some simple vegetables. The brodo is not concentrated like a chicken or beef stock, so it really allows the flavors of the fresh tomatoes in this soup to shine through! (We show you how to make brodo right here!)
Pappa al pomodoro is a perfect option for using fresh, garden-grown tomatoes! But if you don’t have access to fresh – good-quality, canned whole tomatoes such as San Marzano may be used instead. Also, many if not most of the other pappa al pomodoro recipes you’ll find online use chicken stock in this soup – but to be authentic and for the very best flavor, you really want to make and use brodo!
Adapted from Tuscan Cookbook: Recipes and Reminiscences from the Italian Cooking School
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Pappa Al Pomodoro
Note: Prep time listed in this recipe does not include the time required to make the brodo. Chicken stock may be substituted for the brodo if necessary.
- 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling over finished bowls
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 3 pounds fresh ripe tomatoes, seeded and chopped (or an equal amount of a good-quality canned whole tomato such as Cento San Marzano – about 48 ounces/6 cups or more if using canned)
- 1/2 cup roughly torn or chopped fresh basil
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 4 1/2 cups Brodo (see recipe here)
- 1 pound of really dense bread such as a French country loaf or a rustic Italian loaf, crusts removed and cut into one inch cubes
- Grated Parmesano Reggiano to serve over each bowl
- In a medium to large Dutch oven or heavy bottomed pot, slowly bring up the oil to a medium heat and add the garlic. Sauté for just one minute and add the tomatoes, basil and pepper. Cook for five minutes over a medium heat then add the salt.
- Add the brodo, bring up to hot and cook just a few minutes longer. Add the bread, stir and cover. Cook ten minutes covered over very low heat.
- Remove the soup from the heat and serve immediately with olive oil drizzled over each bowl along with freshly grated Parmesano Reggiano.
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