Pappa al pomodoro is a prime example of Tuscan cucina povera cooking. This dish is made with ingredients every peasant has available to them – Tuscan salt free bread, ripe tomatoes, olive oil, broth, garlic, plus sage and basil. Initially, this soup was created in order to make some use of stale bread. Several variations of this dish exist, and for example onions, leek, celery and carrots can be added. In winter, this soup can be served hot as a hearty meal and in summer it is equally inviting, but best served at room temperature. For the real experience, only use Tuscan bread and olive oil – you will feel the difference. Once the soup is ready, drizzle a good amount of olive oil on top, sprinkle some black pepper and garnish with a few basil leaves. This is the taste of real Italy!
250 gr/ 8 2/3 oz stale Italian bread
550 gr/ 19 oz fresh tomatoes, sliced
3 garlic cloves, minced
3-4 dry chilies, deseeded and finely chopped
fresh sage leaves
1.5 l/ 6 2/3 cups vegetable stock
salt and pepper to taste
fresh basil leaves to garnish
Heat olive oil in a pan and saute the minced garlic and a couple of sage leaves together with the dry chilies for a few minutes. Add the sliced tomatoes, season with pepper, and cook over a low heat for 20 minutes.
Pour the boiling vegetable stock into the pan, and let the mixture cook for 10 minutes, and add the stale bread in small pieces. Cook for further 5 minutes and stir the mixture often. Season with salt and turn off the heat. At this point the soup should still be quite watery. Let the soup stand for an hour. After that, mash the bread pieces until they are nearly dissolved and warm up the soup again.
Serve the soup warm, not hot, and drizzle some olive oil on the surface. Sprinkle some freshly ground black pepper on top and garnish with fresh basil leaves.