Pappa al pomodoro is a simple tomato and day-old bread soup and is absolutely delicious. You can enjoy it hot, warm or even cold… depending on the season and on your personal taste.
As it happens for many traditional favorites, there are about as many different recipes as there are families: everyone prepares it in a slightly different way, but the results are always exceptional.
The recipe, originally Tuscan, became famous all over Italy between 1907 and 1908, when novelist Vamba published the acclaimed children story “Il Giornalino di Gian Burrasca” (“The Diary of Johnny the Tempest”). In the novel, the protagonist and his boarding school classmates wish for the delicious soup to be served in the school canteen instead of the regular rice soup, and destroy the school’s rice supply in order to obtain pappa al pomodoro as their Friday lunch.
If you want to try and make it at home, peel, seed and cube a couple of pounds of ripe tomatoes. In a large Dutch oven heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat and sauté the four cloves of garlic until golden, then add the tomatoes. Bring to a gentle boil, add as much fresh basil as you like and four cups of vegetable broth. Turn heat to medium high and bring broth to a boil. Add 8 ounces of day old bread, torn into pieces, stir and cook for about 5 minutes, until the bread starts falling apart. Season with salt and pepper to taste, remove from heat, cover and let stand for at least one hour before serving. Garnish with more fresh basil leaves and a drizzle of olive oil.