It’s August, so everyone and their uncle are talking about tomatoes. And I’m one of the worst offenders. If you follow me on twitter, facebook or instagram you already know. It’s tomatoes 24/7 around here.
And even if our own vegetable garden isn’t producing as well as past years, I am still able to get baskets of the beauties from our local vegetable guy. Giancarlo in Ponte Rio grows them himself, and keeps me supplied with gorgeous San Marzanos, Cuore di Bues and huge, fat pomodori per ripieni.
I’ve been using them all month to make friselle, panzanella and stuffed tomatoes. But for Ferragosto I wanted to make something special. Since it’s been hotter than usual I wanted to make something that a) wasn’t too heavy and b) wasn’t going to make me spend too much time in the hot kitchen. Last year’s pasta al forno was out of the question.
As I was poking around the kitchen, making the shopping list for a last run to the market before the stores closed for the holiday, I realized that I had about a pound of left over, dry, stale bread. No. I was not going to make panzanella again. Not festive enough. Instead I decided to go Tuscan and make pappa al pomodoro.
Pappa al pomodoro is one of those cucina povera dishes that make the most out of very little. Leftover bread is thrown into a pot of stewed tomatoes and ecco! It’s one of the most delicious tomato dishes known to man.
It really is a Tuscan dish, and I’d actually never had it outside of some of my favorite restaurants in Florence. It’s ridiculously easy to make. And while I used fresh san marzano tomatoes, you can easily make it with good quality canned ones.
So while we certainly enjoyed it in the heat of summer, with vine ripened tomatoes, I am already imagining how good it will taste in the dead of winter.
A bowl full of summer, anytime I want.
Pappa al Pomodoro
2 kilos/ 4 pounds of fresh San Marzano tomatoes (or any meaty tomato)
1/3 cup olive oil
1 large onion
4 cloves garlic
1.5 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup basil
3-4 cups vegetable broth
6 slices of stale country bread
Peel the tomatoes by briefly dipping them in boiling water. The skins should come off quite easily. (or substitute high quality canned pelati)
Chop the tomatoes. I usually do this in the food processor.
Pour the olive oil in a soup pot and heat over medium heat. Add onions and let soften, for about 10 minutes. Don’t let them brown. Add garlic and stir. Add tomatoes and salt and let cook for about 25 minutes. If it gets too thick, add some water.
Add the vegetable broth and stir. Then add the bread. Turn off the heat and cover the pot. Let sit for a half hour, so that the bread becomes mushy. Use a wooden spoon to break up the bits of bread.
The soup is delicious served slightly warm or at room temperature.
To serve, place in bowl and drizzle with olive oil. It will be very very thick. Just about thick enough to eat with a fork.