Author Notes: Categories: Healthy, Kids, Vegetarian, Dairy Free, Season: Summer This soup originates from Siena in Toscana and was a traditional way to use up leftover bread. It can be served either hot or cold. The key to making this dish correctly is having very good quality tomatoes (see Note below), basil, and olive oil. The bread has to be the right kind to get the consistency correct. Traditional wood oven baked bread is best so look for a good bakery (see Note below). —woo wei-duan
milliliters extra virgin olive oil, best quality plus extra for drizzling
cloves of garlic, smashed or finely chopped if you like more garlic flavour
onion, skinned, stem removed, and finely chopped
grams Italian flat leaf parsley, leaves removed, washed, dried, and finely chopped
grams basil, leaves picked, washed, dried, and finely sliced
kilos very ripe tomatoes, the best tasting you can find- skinned, seeded, and chopped into 3 cm cubes
grams of stale whole wheat bread, crusts removed and cut or broken into smaller pieces (can toast on a low temperature fresh bread until dry)
liter chicken broth or vegetable broth
Freshly ground black pepper
- In a pot over low heat, heat the olive oil with the garlic, onion, parsley, and 20 grams of the basil.
- Cook until they are soft, about 10 minutes.
- Add the tomatoes and salt and pepper to taste.
- Cook for 45 minutes reducing the heat to low and using a wooden spoon to stir and break up the tomatoes.
- Add the bread and the broth.
- Bring the mixture to a boil, stir and then turn off the heat and allow to sit for 1 hour. If you don’t like a stronger garlic flavour and have put smashed garlic cloves in, then remove them now and discard them. Before serving, either put the soup through a food mill. If you are lazy like me then use a hand-blender to puree the soup being careful not to puree it too finely and finish some of it by smashing any chunks with the back of a wooden spoon.
- The consistency should be like a thick porridge. Reheat the soup and adjust the salt and pepper as needed. Portion the soup into 6 serving bowls and drizzle with good extra-virgin olive oil, sprinkle the remaining ⅓ of the basil over top, and grind some fresh black pepper over top and serve. My children also like to sprinkle Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese over the top as well. This dish can be served hot or cold.
- NOTES If you cannot find nice tomatoes, then buy cherry tomatoes, wash, put on a roasting tray with 60 mls of extra virgin olive oil and 6 peeled garlic cloves. Put in a 180 C oven for 30 minutes until the skins have wrinkled and the juices have concentrated. Allow to cool, remove the skins and the garlic and discard. Now use the tomatoes as per the recipe above. Do not use the store bought white bread which is pre-sliced and comes in a bag. To test the bread, soak stale bread for 10 minutes in water and then squeeze the water out. If the bread can be shredded easily and flakes apart it is the right kind of bread. If it turns into dough balls, then it is not.