Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Pappa al Pomodoro

This Tuscan bread and tomato soup is amazing. 
Perfect on a cold, rainy day like today. 
Made with common ingredients kept in my pantry, it was not difficult to through together and the final result had my husband saying he'd marry me all over again. :) 

I found this recipe on Annie's Eats, and she had adapted it from an Ina Garten recipe. 
I, too, took the recipe and made it my own. 
I used fresh tomatoes, dried basil, pork bacon, French bread, and no wine and ended up with a dish I'd serve again and again. 
The only thing I totally screwed up on was the bread. 
It needed to be dried before being added to the soup. 
And I had just pulled this beautiful loaf out of the oven hours earlier. 

This resulted in dough-y clumps in the soup that I could do without, but I KNOW it would be perfect had I actually followed the directions. :)

For the soup:
1/2 cup (or less) olive oil (or canola)
2 cups chopped yellow onions
1 cup medium-diced carrots
1 cup medium-diced celery
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups (1-inch) diced dry ciabatta bread (or French bread), crusts removed
2 (28-oz.) cans Italian plum tomatoes (or 6 large fresh tomatoes plus 1--14oz can stewed tomatoes)
4 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup dry red wine, or extra stock
1 cup chopped fresh basil leaves (or 2-3 tsp dried)
1 tbsp. kosher salt
1 1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

For the topping:
3 cups (1-inch) diced ciabatta bread
2 oz. thickly sliced pancetta, chopped (or pork bacon)
24-30 whole fresh basil leaves
3 tbsp. olive oil 

Heat the oil in a large stockpot over medium heat.  Add the onions, carrots, celery, and garlic.  Cook for 10 minutes, until tender.  Add the ciabatta cubes and cook for 5 more minutes.  Place the tomatoes in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade and pulse briefly just until coarsely chopped.  Add the tomatoes to the pot along with the chicken stock, red wine, basil, salt and pepper.  Bring the soup to a boil, lower the heat, and allow to simmer, partially covered, for 45 minutes.

For the topping, preheat the oven to 375° F.  Place the ciabatta, pancetta, and basil on a sheet pan large enough to hold them in a single layer.  Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and toss well.  Cook, stirring occasionally, for 20-25 minutes, until all the ingredients are crisp.  The basil leaves will turn dark and crisp.

Beat the soup with a wire whisk until the bread is broken up.  Stir in the Parmesan.  Adjust seasonings to taste.  Serve hot sprinkled with the topping.

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