I was visiting with a family the other day, and all the kids were home because school had been cancelled. When my friend asked them what they wanted for lunch, they asked for "red" soup. Interesting. I realized that, since the mom and dad don't like tomatoes, they must not use that name with their kids. It brought a smile to my face. What kid doesn't like a bowl of tomato soup, served up with a grilled cheese sandwich?
The soup for this weekend is one of the easiest soups to make, and one of the best tasting. I remember having it for the first time when my family and I were in Florence one October. Pappa al Pomodoro is true Tuscan peasant food. I got the recipe from How To Cook Everything Vegetarian by Mark Bittman. The book arrived the other day as a birthday gift from my brother and his family. It was a great choice :)
Pappa al Pomodoro
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus some to drizzle on top as garnish
1 large onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 28 oz can diced tomatoes, no salt added
2 cups vegetable stock
1/2 loaf of Italian bread (I used Sourdough from Panera), cut into cubes
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, torn
salt and pepper to taste
Put oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add onion and garlic, and saute until garlic and onion are browned, about 5 minutes.
Add tomato and cook, stirring occasionally, until pieces fall apart, about 10-15 minutes. Add vegetable broth and bread, and simmer for a few minutes.
Remove pot from heat. Add basil and salt and pepper to taste. Let sit until liquid is absorbed by the bread, which takes about ten minutes. The end result will be a thick, porridge-like soup.
When I serve this soup, I'm pretty generous with the olive oil I drizzle on the top of each bowl. It is comfort food at its best.