Pappa al Pomodoro (Tomato Bread Soup), is a delicious and simple soup originating from Tuscany and consisting of delicious fresh tomatoes, bread, a good helping of Tuscan olive oil, and fresh basil to give it extra flavour. It is a perfect meal for this time of the year, just make sure you use the best ingredients you can find as the quality plays a major role in the taste. There are many variations of this hearty soup out there, but our favourite is Jamie Oliver’s version, he may be English but he has the heart of an Italian and all his recipes are always easy and super tasty.
• 500g ripe cherry tomatoes
• 3 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely sliced
• a large bunch of fresh basil, leaves picked, stalks finely chopped
• the best extra virgin olive oil you can find
• sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
• 2 x 400g tins of good-quality plum tomatoes
• 500g or 2 large handfuls of stale good-quality bread
Prick the cherry tomatoes and toss them with one sliced clove of garlic and a quarter of the basil leaves. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, put them in a roasting tray and cook in the oven at 180ºC/350ºF/gas 4 for about 20 minutes. The reason for doing this is so that their flavour becomes intense and concentrated.
Heat a glug of olive oil in a large pot and add the remaining garlic and the basil stalks. Stir around and gently fry for a minute until softened. Add your tinned tomatoes, then fill the tin with water and add that. Break the tomatoes up with a spoon, bring to the boil and simmer for 15 minutes.
Tear the bread up into thumb-sized pieces and add them to the pan. Mix well and season to taste. Tear in the basil leaves and let the soup sit on a low heat for 10 minutes. By this time your roasted tomatoes will be done, with juice bursting out of their skins, so remove them from the tray, remembering to scrape all the lovely sticky bits from the bottom. Pour them into the soup with all the juices, basil and oil from the tray.
Give the soup a good stir – you're looking to achieve a thick, silky, porridgey texture, so feel free to adjust it with a little water. Then remove it from the heat and add 6 or 7 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil. Divide between your bowls and serve with a little extra basil torn over the top if you like. The most important thing with this soup is that you have a wonderfully intense sweet tomato basil flavour.
Photo & recipe courtesy of Jamie Oliver