Pappa al Pomodoro (Italian Tomato Bread Soup)

So many tomatoes here at Casa Whatfoodimade! So I made this soup, which has so many of the same ingredients as Bruschetta. Why mess with such a winning combination?

Another winning part of this soup: the instruction to eat it at room temperature. The temperature at which so many foods taste their best.

Here goes.

Gather up all the tomatoes.

Tomatoes, of all sorts.

Chop some onion.

Chopped onion.

Mince some garlic.

Minced garlic.

Cook the onion in the olive oil for 10 minutes.

Softening the onion in the olive oil.

Add the garlic and cook for 3 more minutes.

Add the garlic.

While the onion and garlic are heating, chop the tomatoes.

Chopped tomatoes.

Add the tomatoes to the pot.

Add the tomatoes to the onions and garlic (a whatfoodimade action shot™!).

Pour in the stock.

Pour the stock in (another whatfoodimade action shot™!).

Add the marjoram too (a nice change from basil), as well as the salt and pepper.


Heated for 10 minutes on medium heat, with some help from a potato masher (or tomato masher, really).

After 10 minutes on the heat.

While the tomatoes are heating, slice the baguette.

Sliced baguette.

Add the bread to the mixture, then leave alone for an hour.

Add the bread.

Stir in the Parmesan, ladle some soup into a large shallow bowl (such precise instructions!) and sprinkle with more Parmesan cheese.

Pappa al Pomodoro (Italian Tomato Bread Soup).

Italian Tomato Bread Soup.

From the All Around the World Cookbook by Sheila Lukins.

Pappa al Pomodoro (Italian Tomato Bread Soup)
Serves 8

I count Italy’s great tomato bread soup as one of my favourites. There are two yearly events which occur simultaneously for me and which always result in my first batch of soup on Memorial Day weekend. At my farm in Connecticut, the herb garden starts to flourish with chives, tarragon and masses of marjoram, and tomatoes in the market seem to be making their metamorphosis from winter’s pale, mealy variety into the lush, red, juicy orbs that herald summer.

A generous splash of fruity extra virgin olive oil starts the soup. Next come softly wilted onions and garlic. Peeled, seeded tomatoes with all their sweet juice make the base of the soup.

Chicken or vegetable broth should be rich and full flavoured. I add marjoram from my garden to the soup, but fresh basil is a perfectly acceptable substitute. Once the soup is lightly simmered, day-old bread is torn in pieces and allowed to rest in the soup for one hour. The soup is best served at room temperature with some freshly grated Parmesan stirred in just before serving. This is a splendid way to begin a lusty meal of grilled butterflied leg of lamb, ratatouille and herb-spiked potatoes.

1/3 cup fruity extra virgin olive oil
1 cup diced (1/4 inch) onion
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
6 pounds ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped, juices reserved
1/2 cup fresh marjoram or basil leaves, coarsely chopped
4 cups defatted chicken or vegetable broth
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 long sourdough baguette, cut into 10 to 12 1/2 inch thick slices
2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for passing at the table

1. Heat the oil in a large heavy soup pot over low heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring, until wilted, about 10 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook for another 3 minutes.

2. Add the tomatoes with all their juices. Stir in the marjoram and broth, then season with salt and pepper. Simmer, partially covered over medium-low heat for about 10 minutes to blend the flavours.

3. Break up the bread and stir it into the soup. Remove from the heat and let rest covered for 1 hour. Adjust the seasonings to taste.

4. Before serving, stir in the 2 tablespoons Parmesan. Serve at room temperature in a large shallow bowl and pass additional Parmesan to sprinkle atop.


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