pappa al pomodoro

August 22, 2011

Pappa al pomodoro is a perhaps the mother of all rustic peasant soups. Once considered the soup of the poor in Tuscany, the ingredients are elemental, most would have been found in the garden, and it boasts a good serving of stale bread to make it thick, filling, and satisfying. So why me? Well, the kids are at camp so we have nothing but stale bread in the kitchen, except for a handful of fabulous looking heirloom tomatoes from the farmers’ market that needed to be consumed. I have a little basil in the garden and lots and lots of garlic so it was a no-brainer. And turned out to be a good-brainer because it was so ridiculously delicious we couldn’t stop eating it. Those Tuscans had a thing or two figured out!

1 kg or about 6 large fresh heirloom tomatoes, different shapes, colours, sizes, chopped

3 garlic cloves, minced

a handful of fresh basil leaves, chopped

1 litre veggie stock

4 slices stale bread, chopped

4 tbsps olive oil

sea salt and pepper

Wash tomatoes and chop them coursely. Peel and mince garlic. Wash and chop basil. Chop bread slices into cubes.

Heat olive oil in a heavy-bottom pot or dutch oven. Saute garlic until it’s fragrant but not brown. Add chopped tomatoes and basil and let simmer for 5 minutes or so. Add vegetable stock and bread, bring to a boil, and then let simmer for 30 minutes. The bread will break down and become one with the tomatoes and stock. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot with a good chunk of warm, hearty bread.

PS The authentic version of pappa al pomodoro calls for unsalted, white, Tuscan bread. All we had was a stale olive boule from St. John’s Bakery. Go with what you’ve got and don’t be afraid to improvise.