Saturday, February 21, 2009

Papa al Pomodoro

After my freshman year in college, my friend Marni and spent the summer living in Florence.  I didn't learn much italian that summer (does "hello little dog" count?), but I did gain a huge appreciation for simple Italian food.  I didn't have a bad meal the whole summer, and our forays into saving money by cooking in our friend's apartment jump-started my love of cooking and entertaining. 

One of the many delicious foods I discovered that summer was this soup, Papa al Pomodoro, made mainly of tomatoes and stale bread, key ingredients on rustic tuscan menus during the summer months.  This soup was delicious in the summer, but is instantly comforting in the cold winter months, as well.  My co-worker, Abby of Big East Baker, uncovered a recipe a few weeks ago, and I knew i had to make it as soon as I could accumulate enough stale bread.  One dinner party later, and we were ready to go.  This is a quick, filling dinner you can make with little effort- give it a try!

14 oz. Canned Plum Tomatoes
2 large stale wheat rolls, torn into rough chunks.
2 Cloves Garlic
Handful of fresh chopped Basil
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper, to season
Sugar (optional)

Begin by chopping your garlic into thin slices, then heating gently in a pan with a good sized drizzle of olive oil.
Before the garlic starts to go brown add in the tomatoes and 1 1/4 cups of water. Stir well.
Mush the tomatoes up a bit with a wooden spoon and bring the whole thing up to the boil before reducing down to a simmer.
Simmer for 40 minutes; about 5 minutes before the end add in your bread and basil and stir.
Remove from the heat and check for seasoning, making the necessary adjustments with salt, pepper and sugar (if needed). Allow to stand for a couple of minutes.
Pour in approximately 6 tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil and stir loosely to combine.
Ladle into bowls and top with a sprig of fresh basil.


Abby said...

you lived in Florence for a summer?? so jealous! this looks great... might make it again tomorrow.

joannabug said...

Oh wow, I visited Florence for a week once, before my senior year in college, and I'll never forget it. I still have a place for it in my heart, hoping I can go back some day.

That food looks delicious! What is the texture like with the bread? Is it like a stew, or is more like tomato sauce with croutons? I have some stale bread in my freezer that's been looking for a good home, and I might try this. :-)