I’m not sure there is anything that reminds me of Tuscany more than Pappa al Pomodoro! The first time I had it, Andrew and I were on our honeymoon in July 2014, and I remember it like it was yesterday; we were sitting on the patio at La Grotta, in Montepulciano in the heart of Tuscany. For those who have never had it, Pappa al Pomodoro is a tomato soup that’s thickened with crusty stale bread, and embodies the simplicity of Italian cooking! If you’re thinking mushy bread (for all those texture people – mom), it’s nothing like that. The soup is cooked with the bread cubes in it and it slowly breaks down and forms a luscious, thick and velvety soup. Flavored with onions, fennel, basil and of course tomatoes, the soup is elegant and simplicity at it’s finest. Be warned though, it’s much more filling than it looks due to all the bread! I hope you enjoy this soup as much as we do! Buon appetito!

Ingredients

2 tbsp olive oil

1 yellow onion, diced

1 bulb fennel, core removed and diced (safe the fronds to garnish)

2 carrots, unpeeled and diced

2 stalks celery with leaves, diced

1/2 cup torn fresh basil leaves

2 cups day-old crusty bread, diced

8 very ripe, tomatoes, diced

1 cup Chianti wine, divided

4 cups homemade chicken stock

1/2 tsp red chili flakes

Salt & pepper

Grated Parmesan cheese for garnish

Directions

Heat the olive oil in the bottom of a dutch oven or heavy bottomed pan. Add the onions, fennel, carrots and celery and season with salt and pepper. Cook over medium-high heat for 8-10 minutes until translucent and fragrant. Add the bread cubes, 1/2 cup of Chianti and stir until the bread is soaked with wine. Add the tomatoes, red chili flakes and basil. Pour over the chicken stock and return to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 45 minutes to 1 hour, stirring occasionally. The bread should start to break down and thicken the soup, and the vegetables should be very soft. Taste for seasoning.

Using a blender or immersion blender, very carefully puree the soup until it is smooth and consistent with no large lumps remaining. Return to the heat and check the seasoning. Just before serving, add the remaining 1/2 cup of wine to add a bold flavor to the soup. Serve, top with additional Parmesan cheese and fresh basil, and enjoy!

 

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