Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Pappa Al Pomodoro (Tomato Soup)

From time to time I have friends who like to send me soup recipes to make for them. I am happy to try them out and they are happy (usually) to sample the attempts.  My friend Charity sent this one to me several years ago and I have made it for her on a few occasions now.  I am in a never ending quest for the perfect tomato soup recipe.  Very different as it uses bread as the thickening agent.  It is originally from the Barefoot Contessa and I love her recipes.  I adapted it slightly but still think the end result is good.  The crunchy topping is the best!  I could just eat it and be happy.   :)

Pappa Al Pomodoro

Soup Ingredients:
  •  1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cups chopped yellow onion
  • 1 cup diced carrots
  • 4 cloves minced garlic
  • 3 cups of 1 inch dice ciabatta bread cubes
  • 2 28 ounce cans of san marzano whole tomatoes
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine
  • 1 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
  • kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (please no green can!)

Topping Ingredients:
  •  3 cups of 1 inch dice ciabatta bread cubes
  • 1/4 pound chopped pancetta
  • 30 whole fresh basil leaves
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil plus more for drizzling
  • kosher salt and pepper
Heat the oil in a soup pot over medium heat.  Add the onions, carrots, and garlic and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes until tender.  Add the bread cubes and cook for a few more minutes.  Place the tomatoes in the bowl of a food processor (in two batches - I speak from experience) and process until coarsely chopped.  Add the tomatoes to the pot along with the chicken stock, red wine, basil, 1 tablespoon of salt and 1 1/2 teaspoons of pepper.  Bring to a boil.  Lower heat and simmer for 45 minutes to an hour.

In the meantime, preheat the oven to 375.  Place the bread cubes, pancetta and basil leaves on a large sheet tray in a single layer.  Drizzle with olive oil and salt and pepper.  Toss well.  Cook, stirring occasionally, for 20 - 25 minutes until everything is crisp.  The basil leaves will get all dark and crunchy and I could just eat them alone!  

Beat the soup with a wire whisk to break up the bread.  Stir in the Parmesan and adjust seasonings as needed.  Serve soup with the crispy topping and drizzle with some more olive oil.