Pappa al pomodoro is not easy to describe; it is like pap, a thick, soupy tomato mixture. It is an old-fashioned country dish that has come back into vogue and like so many other Tuscan soups that have bread as a component, this soup is thickened by mixing bread into it.
The secret to this soup is to use meaty, juicy plum tomatoes when they are at their peak and good coarse day-old bread. This is one of the ways that I like to use up summer tomatoes.
2 1/2 pounds plum tomatoes, cored and cut in half
1/2 cup Filippo Berio Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 pound leeks, white bulb only, finely diced
12 basil leaves, minced
3 cups hot chicken or vegetable broth
3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
Grinding black pepper
3 cups stale bread cut into 1-inch cubes
Puree the tomatoes in a food processor until smooth. Pour the mixture into a fine sieve placed over a large bowl. Strain the juice by pressing down with a wooden spoon and discard the seeds and skins. Set aside.
Heat 1/4 cup of the olive oil in a large soup pot, stir in the leeks and half of the basil and cook until the leeks soften. Stir in the tomato juice, broth, salt, and pepper and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes. Keep the soup covered off the heat.
Heat the remaining olive oil in a large sauté pan. Stir in the remaining basil and the bread cubes. Brown the bread quickly over medium heat. Stir the cubes into the soup. Cover the pan and allow the bread to absorb the liquid.
When ready to serve, slowly reheat the soup. Pass extra virgin olive oil to drizzle on top.
This recipe is from CIAO ITALIA IN TUSCANY by Mary Ann Esposito, published by St. Martin's Press in 2003.
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