Every year I can’t wait for the native tomatoes to come out. Of course, there’s no such thing as too many fresh, summer tomatoes, but this is a perfect recipe if you’re looking to make the most of a bumper crop. This easy soup has to be done with ripe farm-grown tomatoes. It’s called pappa al pomodoro. It’s meant to be eaten warm (not hot like a winter soup) or room temperature, so you can experience the best flavors of the fresh ingredients.
Pappa al Pomodoro
The ingredients are (about 4 servings):
2 pounds tomatoes, cored, cut into eight wedges each
2 garlic cloves, smashed
6 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for serving
Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
4-6 sprigs of basil
1-1/2 cups (approx.) country-style bread, crust removed, torn into 2″ pieces
4 cups water
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese (optional)
Place the tomatoes, garlic and the olive oil in a soup pot over medium low heat and let them brown. Stir them occasionally and don’t let them burn. The tomatoes should become darker, approximately 20-30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and add the basil. Let the basil wilt, approximately 2 minutes. Add the water and 1 cup of the bread. Bring to a boil and stir occasionally to break up the tomatoes and bread. Cook over medium heat for about 15 minutes more. Taste and adjust seasoning.
Toast the remaining bread. Add the toasted bread and let simmer for 1 minute. Turn off the heat and add the cheese or serve the cheese with the soup. Drizzle the bowls of soup with additional good olive oil. Make this a traditional dish at the end of summer every year.
A Note: I recently had a dish in Bevagna where the restaurant created an eggplant napoleon with a thicker version of pappa al pomodoro between the layers of thin grilled eggplant. I couldn’t wait to return home and try to reproduce it.