Pappa al Pomodoro / Thick Tuscan Tomato and Bread Soup

August 12, 2021

This traditional Tuscan tomato soup is prepared only when tomatoes are in season and at their best: ripe, meaty and sweet.

My recipe for this soup is the most simplistic: good white bread, basil, tomatoes, garlic and olive oil.

You may come across a version with onions and spiced with some chilli peppers, which is also worth trying.

Serves 4:

  • 1 kg of ripe tomatoes, if possible use San Marzano or Cuor di Bue, which are perfect for making sauces because of their higher concentration of pulp and fewer seeds
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 180-200 g of white stale bread (of a good quality), cut into small pieces
  • a bunch of basil 
  • about 1l of home made vegetable stock 
  • 4-5 tablespoons of olive oil
  • salt
  • pepper
  • some sugar if needed

First prepare the tomatoes.

Bring a large pot of water to the boil. Cut a small cross on the bottom of each tomato and put them gently into the boiling water for 2 minutes.

Drain and wait until they have cooled down enough to handle. Peel the skin off, discard any seeds and cut the tomatoes into smaller pieces.

Heat up the olive oil in a large deep pan. Add slightly crushed garlic cloves and fry for a couple of minutes on a lower heat, making sure not to burn them. 

Now add the prepared tomatoes, give everything a good stir and leave to cook gently for about 30- 40 minutes. The sauce should have thickened by now. Take out the garlic cloves and discard.

Season the sauce with some salt and a few pinches of sugar if needed.

Now add the bread and about 600 ml of the stock. Stir the soup until the bread has fully soaked up the liquid. Pour in more stock if the soup is very thick.

Tear in your hands a handful of basil leaves and add them into the mixture.

Let everything cook (on a gentle heat) for another 10 minutes or so adjusting the seasoning. You can add more basil leaves if you wish.

The soup should be served lukewarm to warm, never hot.

Before serving drizzle with some extra virgin olive oil and dust with freshly ground black pepper.