One of the great things about having dinner at Poliziano after my lessons with the kids is that I get to try fabulous Tuscan dishes. The woman who cooks for the family is Tania. She’s a lovely person and a sensational cook. And she’s always willing to answer my cooking questions and share recipes. (The other night I sampled “spleen” for the first time, “milza,” which is served on crostini. It was tasty, but I’ll admit I was enjoying it a bit more before Anna whipped out the vocabulario so I could see what milza was. My stomach rebelled for a minute but recovered admirably. )
But the dish Tania made as a starter two weeks ago was a delicious tomato bread soup that has it’s roots in Tuscany and was usually made because it was simple and economical. These are two of my favorite words at the moment when it comes to cooking. And if you love tomato soup as I do, it’s the perfect dish for a cold winter’s day. I compared Tania’s recipe with Antonella’s, then attempted it on my own.
Here it is. It’s pretty delicious for a soup that has only a few ingredients. I made it for a friend and it got rave reviews.
Pappa al Pomodoro (serves four – at least)
- onion 1
- butter and/or olive oil
- tomato passato or canned plum tomatoes (I used one large can of whole plum tomatoes)
- garlic 2 (optional) Tania doesn’t use this but Antonella does
- Broth – a few cups. (you can use water and cubed brodo if you want)
- Stale crusty Tuscan-style bread (they key here is two days old)
- salt and pepper
Dice onions and saute in butter or olive oil (Tania uses butter, Antonella olive oil so I did half and half). Add diced garlic. Cook until softened, about ten minutes. Add tomatoes. I crush with my hands as I add to the pan. Cook for another ten to fifteen minutes, breaking up tomatoes as you stir. Use immersion blender to make consistency that of a puree. (You can skip this step if you use tomato puree and chop the onions tiny.)
Add broth to cover tomatoes. I used about four or five cups. Slice the stale bread and tear into big chunks stir into soup. I did this a little at a time because Antonella gave me what she thought was the right amount for the size of canned tomatoes I bought, but it seemed like way too much. As it turned out she was exactly right. Stir the bread into the soup until it thickens and the bread kind of dissolves. The consistency is quite thick, but you can always add a little more broth if you feel the need. Add grated parmigiano. Let rest for a half hour. Heat again before serving. Serve with best quality olive oil. YUM!