Pappa Al Pomodoro

Pappa al Pomodoro is a rustic tomato and bread dish that’s half-way between a soup and a porridge. It’s best made with vermillion hued, plump skinned tomatoes, birthed under the Tuscan sun, but it’s also the kind of soul warming meal you crave after trudging home from work on a frigid winter day. A paradox, I know, but one that can be solved with the right ingredients.

It shouldn’t come as any surprise that the secret to a good Pappa al Pomodoro is in the quality of the tomatoes and the bread. While you’d be hard pressed to find much in the way of sun ripened tomatoes in January, a good can of Italian tomatoes and a little honey will get you a convincing rendition of this classic. A forgery to be sure, but one that is good enough in the dead of winter, when your spirit yearns for a little sunshine.

The provenance of this dish is undisputedly Tuscan, but the ingredients themselves hail from Peru, Western Asia and Southern Asia, making it an unlikely fore bearer of Asian-Latin fusion cuisine. Puzzled?… Tomatoes are a member of the nightshade family that developed in South America and were brought to Europe by the Spanish. The wheat in bread was first cultivated by the Mesopotamians over 11,000 years ago, and basil is a member of the mint family that came from the tropics of Asia.

For my version, I like to brown the bread in olive oil first, which really brings out the flavour of the bread and gives the soup a nice toasty undertone. The olive oil that soaks into the golden kernels of bread imparts a velvety quality to this Pappa al Pomodoro that mellows out any sharp tannins in the tomatoes. Bathing the toasted bread in the vegetable stock before adding it into the finished soup, keeps the Pappa al Pomodoro from getting too runny or too gloopy, while allowing all the components to intermingle into a bowlful of joy.

Emboldened by the loss of a few pounds over the holidays (presumably due to the cold, not for lack of gluttony), I drizzled some olive oil over this at the end, which adds just the right amount of fresh green flavours, along with some hand torn basil.

Pappa al Pomodoro

1/2 loaf of dense day old bread torn into pieces (about 9 ounces)
3 C good quality vegetable broth
3 cloves garlic minced
1 medium onion roughly chopped
28 oz. can of San Marzano whole stewed tomatoes
salt and honey to taste
fresh basil

Put the bread in a food processor and pulse to break it up into small pieces (bigger than bread crumbs, but smaller than croutons). Add a few glugs of olive oil to a pot over medium heat and toast the bread until it just starts to take on a golden color. Add the vegetable stock, cover with a lid, and let it sit while you make the rest of the soup.

Put the garlic in the food processor and process until finely minced. Add the onions and pulse until minced (but not pureed). Heat a frying pan over medium low heat until hot and add a splash of olive oil. Add the garlic and onions and sauté until the onions are very soft.

While the onions are softening, put the tomatoes with any liquid in the food processor and pulse a few times to break up the pieces (you still want some chunks). Add the tomatoes to the pan with the onions and simmer on medium low heat for 20 minutes.

Add the tomatoes to the bread, heat the Pappa al Pomodoro through, salt and honey to taste, and serve with hand torn basil and a drizzle of olive oil on top.

  • http://pithyandcleaver.com/ maggie

    This looks delicious! Glad canned tomatoes work ok—I’m starting to go into serious tomato withdrawal.

  • http://pithyandcleaver.com maggie

    This looks delicious! Glad canned tomatoes work ok—I’m starting to go into serious tomato withdrawal.

  • http://souvlakiforthesoul.com/ Peter G

    A “forgery”…LOL! A good one at that Marc! Looks beautiful…and it has a lot of my favourite ingredients in it.

  • http://souvlakiforthesoul.com Peter G

    A “forgery”…LOL! A good one at that Marc! Looks beautiful…and it has a lot of my favourite ingredients in it.

  • http://Trissalicious.com/ Trissa

    Losing weight over the holidays? Unheard of!! Jealous!! Anyway that dish looks do yummy. You’re right that it looks versatile enough for a hearty dinner during winter but perfect for the heat like in Sydney too! Love the photo with the basil on top!

  • http://Trissalicious.com Trissa

    Losing weight over the holidays? Unheard of!! Jealous!! Anyway that dish looks do yummy. You’re right that it looks versatile enough for a hearty dinner during winter but perfect for the heat like in Sydney too! Love the photo with the basil on top!

  • Maybelles mom

    I like how you spoke about this as a global dish.

  • Maybelles mom

    I like how you spoke about this as a global dish.

  • http://cookappeal.blogspot.com/ Chef E

    You won’t believe this Marc, but my son and I ate at an old rustic Italian place in The Hill of St Louis, and this is what I ordered. Talk about tradition in a bowl! Yours looks fantastic… Great post…

  • http://cookappeal.blogspot.com/ Chef E

    You won’t believe this Marc, but my son and I ate at an old rustic Italian place in The Hill of St Louis, and this is what I ordered. Talk about tradition in a bowl! Yours looks fantastic… Great post…

  • http://www.gourmetfury.com/ Melody Fury

    Yummy in my tummy. Love the use of honey instead of refined sugar.

  • http://www.gourmetfury.com Melody Fury

    Yummy in my tummy. Love the use of honey instead of refined sugar.

  • http://foodhappens.blogspot.com/ lo

    Looks so good! An Italian tomato can perk up even the coldest winter day, no?

  • http://foodhappens.blogspot.com lo

    Looks so good! An Italian tomato can perk up even the coldest winter day, no?

  • http://www.tasteslikehome.org/ Cynthia

    Mark, I’m sure going to give this a try, the only thing is that I would have to make my own bread… honestly I can’t get get nice rustic loaves over here unless I make it myself.

  • http://www.tasteslikehome.org Cynthia

    Mark, I’m sure going to give this a try, the only thing is that I would have to make my own bread… honestly I can’t get get nice rustic loaves over here unless I make it myself.

  • http://deltakitchen.blogspot.com/ Andreas

    Looks like a very tasty meal for the cold days.

  • http://deltakitchen.blogspot.com/ Andreas

    Looks like a very tasty meal for the cold days.

  • http://www.choosy-beggars.com/ Choosy Beggar Tina

    Mmm…this is one of my favorite soups! I make mine a bit soupier with more tomato and basil, but I can’t wait to try browning the bread with oil and adding a touch o’ honey. Peasant food kicks ass.

  • http://www.choosy-beggars.com Choosy Beggar Tina

    Mmm…this is one of my favorite soups! I make mine a bit soupier with more tomato and basil, but I can’t wait to try browning the bread with oil and adding a touch o’ honey. Peasant food kicks ass.

  • http://www.whatdoiwant2cooktoday.blogspot.com/ Jan

    Looks yummy!

  • http://www.whatdoiwant2cooktoday.blogspot.com Jan

    Looks yummy!

  • http://veggietestdrive.blogspot.com/ Christine

    Can’t wait for tomato season to swing around again! Fresh has got to be even better.

  • http://veggietestdrive.blogspot.com/ Christine

    Can’t wait for tomato season to swing around again! Fresh has got to be even better.

  • http://fortheloveofyum.wordpress.com/ Nadia

    Gorgeous site, so happy to have stumbled upon it, will be back! :)

  • http://fortheloveofyum.wordpress.com Nadia

    Gorgeous site, so happy to have stumbled upon it, will be back! :)

  • http://www.sugarbar.org/ diva

    oh gotta love this. it’s definitely comfort food! thanks for the recipe Marc

  • http://www.sugarbar.org diva

    oh gotta love this. it’s definitely comfort food! thanks for the recipe Marc

  • http://dodol-mochi.blogspot.com/ Pei-Lin

    Oh, yes! What a fabulous way to use up days-old bread! Thanks for sharing the recipe & idea!

  • http://dodol-mochi.blogspot.com/ Pei-Lin

    Oh, yes! What a fabulous way to use up days-old bread! Thanks for sharing the recipe & idea!

  • http://www.pastrychefonline.com/ Jenni

    No shame in using canned tomatoes, esp San Marzano. Give me bread drenched in tomato juices and I’m a happy girl–panzanella, bruschetta, and this lovely soup. A new one on me, but not for long!

  • http://www.pastrychefonline.com/ Jenni

    No shame in using canned tomatoes, esp San Marzano. Give me bread drenched in tomato juices and I’m a happy girl–panzanella, bruschetta, and this lovely soup. A new one on me, but not for long!

  • http://www.oldwaystable.org/ Alison

    Anything with “pomodoro” in the title is fine with me. Amazing photos Marc!

  • http://www.oldwaystable.org Alison

    Anything with “pomodoro” in the title is fine with me. Amazing photos Marc!

  • http://twitter.com/WordsAreFood Kristin Conroy

    I realized my mouth was watering by the time I finished the post! I love the simplicity of this dish–I'm more likely to make it–as well as the earthiness and homey quality that adds to its appeal. I also enjoyed learning the origins of the ingredients; even dishes we consider indigenous to a particular region often times turn out to be global upon further research. Thanks for sharing, Marc…can't wait to try this one out!

  • http://www.spinachtiger.com Spinachtiger

    I'm impressed with your Italian. I want to try this with fresh tomatoes from my garden.

  • Abimax1

    ok, Im doing the master cleanse right now, and its very difficult being on your site and not being ravenous parousing your recipes. The way you describe food with words matches its taste,and your recipes are like a love symphony.Help!! :)

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