Pappa al Pomodoro is a thick Tuscan soup that incorporates cubes of day-old crusty bread with tomatoes resulting in an incredibly hearty, satisfying, and budget friendly meal. Peasant fare at its best, the dish stands out because of its bright flavors and overall simplicity. Pappa al Pomidoro is as easy as it is delicious. Traditionally prepared with fresh tomatoes, this version can even be made in winter, when truly ripe tomatoes are hard to come by. I like to use whole peeled San Marzano tomatoes in the can - a little trick I apply to many fresh tomato recipes to transform them into seasonless, pantry meals. My inspiration comes from elements of both Mario Batali and, his former sous chef, Anne Burrell’s interpretations of the classic.
Buon Appetito! —Neurotic Kitchenista
Large Garlic Cloves, crushed and then finely chopped
small sweet Onion such as Maui or Vidalia
dense, crusty 1-2 Day-Old Italian Bread (I prefer the seeded braided loaf), crusts mostly removed, thickly sliced then diced into 1 inch chunks (about 4 cups)
Can Whole Peeled Tomatoes, preferably San Marzano
Tomato Juice, divided
Ground Black Pepper
Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
leaves Fresh Basil Leaves8 cut into a chiffonade, 4 reserved for garnish
Prepare and chop Bread if you have not already. Set aside.
Set a colander over a large bowl and pour in the contents of the Can of Whole Peeled Tomatoes, taking care to reserve most of the juice. Remove the bowl and set aside.
Rinse Tomatoes under cold water and remove to a large cutting surface. The Tomatoes will release a lot of liquid once cut so take care to place them on a large surface. Roughly chop the Tomatoes and return them to the colander. Rinse again under cold water, shaking, until most of the seeds have been washed away. Allow to drain in the sink until ready to use.
Coat a large, deep skillet with the Olive Oil and heat over medium heat until hot but not smoking. Add the Onion and Garlic and saute, stirring frequently, for about 4 minutes until Onion begins to become translucent. Add Chopped Tomatoes and their Reserved Juice. Bring to a boil. Next add 1 Cup of Tomato Juice and 1 Cup of Water. Lower the heat to a simmer and let Tomato mixture cook for 5 to 7 minutes until the Tomatoes begin to break down.
Next, add the Bread Chunks and the remaining Cup of Tomato Juice. Stir. Continue simmering a few minutes longer until the Bread has soaked up as much liquid as possible. Stir in the Basil Chiffonade and sprinkle on a healthy dose of Black Pepper and an optional pinch of Crushed Red Pepper. Let soup simmer an additional 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Taste for seasoning and add a pinch of Kosher Salt if desired.
To serve, transfer the Soup into warmed soup bowls. Garnish each with a Basil Leaf and a sprinkle of Parmigiano Reggiano.