Pappa al Pomodoro (Tomato and Bread Soup)
This comforting, rich and thick tomato and bread soup is inspired by the Tuscan Pappa al Pomodoro. Its humble protagonists are a couple tins of good quality tomatoes and bread, making this the best pantry meal imaginable.
As this soup relies on so few ingredients, it’s important to source good quality ones. When buying tinned tomatoes, I always look for Mutti tomatoes as I find they closest replicate the flavour of sweet, ripe tomatoes, and require very little to draw out flavour and richness. In terms of bread, most will do. Although this soup is traditionally made with Tuscan bread, which is typically unsalted and becomes stale quickly, I find a good loaf of sourdough brings the most flavour and best texture to the soup.
3 + 2 tbsp (60ml) olive oil
1 yellow onion (around 180g), finely chopped
1 clove garlic, smashed
3 tbsp tomato paste
2 x 400g tins good quality plum tomatoes
4 sprigs basil
400ml vegetable stock
1 tsp salt
200g day-old bread
Heat 3 tbsp of olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the chopped onion and smashed garlic to the oil, sprinkle with salt, toss to coat, and lower the heat.
Sauté the onions and garlic for 10-12 minutes, until the onions are soft and starting to caramalise.
Stir in the tomato paste, raise the heat to medium high and cook it for 3-4 minutes, until starting to darken and stick to the bottom of the pot.
While the tomato paste cooks, place a colander over a bowl. Pour the tins of tomatoes over the colander, and use a spoon to separate as much of the liquid from the whole tomatoes as possible.
Add the strained tomatoes to the onions, reserving the tomato sauce in the bowl for later. Cook the tomatoes for 8-10 minutes, until thickened and jammy. This helps develop and intensify the tomato flavour and sweetness in the final soup.
Next, add the reserved tomato sauce, basil, vegetable stock and salt to the pot. Bring the soup to a simmer, and cook for 20-25 minutes until thickened.
Using your hands, tear the bread into small pieces. Stir the bread into the soup, and continue to cook it for 10-15 minutes.
Taste for seasoning and adjust to taste. Serve the soup topped with an extra big drizzle of extra olive oil.
by Valentina Concordia
Valentina is our Food Editor, who dreams up our tasty dishes and recipes for our social channels. She has loads of experience cooking up a storm in Italian kitchens, so it’s no surprise she can’t live without good-quality olive oil (don’t come between her and her olive oil) and fresh pasta.