|Pappa al Pomodoro, Photo: NK|
Now if you were to ask my mom about my impressions of our amazing Northern Italian adventure, she'd tell you I spent most of my time whining about missing my then-boyfriend and being a general pill. Looking back, I can't rightly disagree. But what my mom didn't realize was that even to this crabby teenager, our trip to Italy was a pivotal moment. The sheer magic of the country was, from then on, etched on my soul. The next leg of our trip brought us to Venice where I remember being even more awestruck. It seemed to me like a postcard come alive.
Pappa al Pomodoro is as easy as it is delicious. Traditionally prepared with ripe, fresh Tomatoes, it comes together fairly quickly. In winter, when truly ripe Tomatoes are very hard to come by, I like to use Whole Peeled San Marzano Tomatoes in the can. This is a little trick I apply to many Fresh Tomato recipes.
I think I was in the mood for this Soup because my family has been discussing a possible Italy trip. Very exciting - I'll keep you posted! For today's dinner, I adapted both the Mario Batali version of this recipe and that of his former sous chef, Anne Burrell, taking my favorite aspects from each. The result was delicious, comforting, and very filling! Enjoy and Buon Appetito!
Pantry Pappa al Pomodoro (Tuscan Tomato & Bread Soup)
Adapted from Mario Batali and Anne Burrell
3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
3 large Garlic Cloves, crushed and finely chopped
1 small Sweet Onion such as Maui or Vidalia, chopped
3/4 Lb 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)
28 Ounce Can Whole Peeled Tomatoes, preferably San Marzano
2 Cups Tomato Juice, divided
Pinch of Kosher Salt (optional)
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground Black Pepper or more to taste
Pinch Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
12 Basil Leaves, 8 cut into a chiffonade, 4 reserved for garnish (Tune in to next week's post for a great use for all that leftover Basil!)
Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, optional, for serving
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.
|Roughly Cubed bread, Photo: NK|
|Incorporating the Bread into the Tomato Mixture, Photo: NK|
|Allow the Bread to Soak Up Tomato, Photo: NK|
To serve, garnish with Basil and an optional sprinkle of Parmigiano or drizzle of Olive Oil:
|Pappa al Pomodoro, Photo: NK|