It’s been a long winter of soups. I don’t know about you, but I’m about at the end of my personal soup repertoire. When this last blast of polar vortex arrived, I needed help and I turned to Domenica Marchetti for her soup savvy. Domenica is the author of The Glorious Soups and Stews of Italy, The Glorious Pastas of Italy and last year’s The Glorious Vegetables of Italy (all from Chronicle Books).
Tomato soup conjurs up so many memories. For some, it’s the Campbell’s variety, sometimes made with milk. We grow up and tomato soup gets a little more finesse. Grilled cheese croutons on garlic laced satiny tomato broth. Spirals of crema. Chiles as an undertone. Corn. Bacon. You recognize all those iterations, don’t you?
Domenica introduced me to a whole new way to love tomato soup. As porridge. From her inspirational book, The Glorious Vegetables of Italy, Pappa al Pomodoro is rib sticking and wonderful, rich and silky. It’s dead easy and while I’m sure it would be even better with fresh tomatoes, with my home canned tomatoes it was sensational.
One glance through any of her books, and it’s clear Domenica knows her soups. And now, she’s hooked up with Craftsy to offer a class on authentic Italian soups. There are a few key techniques to master; she’ll covers them all while demonstrating three classic soups. (To all of you, my wonderful readers, Domenica is offering a 10% discount on the class. Just Click Here to pick up the code for savings.)
In the meantime, make this Domenica soup and wish away the polar vortex.
Pappa al Pomodoro
from The Glorious Vegetables of Italy (Chronicle Books)
Reprinted with permission. My adaptation in italics.
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil plus more for drizzling
1/3 cup finely diced red onion
2 garlic cloves, lightly crushed
2 large ripe summer tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and coarsely chopped
I substituted 1 pint crushed tomatoes and 1 pint roasted tomato purée.
1 or 2 minced chile peppers in olive oil or a generous pinch of red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon fine sea salt, or to taste
10 large fresh basil leaves cut crosswise into fine strips (chiffonade)
8 ounces slightly stale sturdy Italian country bread (crusts removed), torn into large pieces or if not stale, lightly toasted
3 to 4 cups vegetable broth or water
One 2-inch piece parmigiano-reggiano cheese rind
In a Dutch oven or other heavy-bottomed pot, warm the 3 tbsp. olive oil, the onion and the garlic over medium-low heat. Cook, stirring often, for7 to 8 minutes, or until the onion and garlic are softened but not browned.
Tip in the tomatoes and their juices, the chile peppers, salt and half of the basil chiffonade. Stir, raise the heat to medium-high, and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook at a gentle simmer until the tomatoes have broken down into a pulp and deepened in color.
Add the bread pieces and stir to combine them with the tomatoes. Stir in the broth, starting with 3 cups and adding more if the soup is too thick. Toss in the Parmigiano rind. Raise the heat to medium-high and bring the soup to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook at a gentle simmer for 30 to 40 minutes, or until the bread has been reduced to a thick porridge. Turn off the heat and stir in the remaining basil. Taste and adjust the seasoning if you like. Cover the soup and let it rest for 5 to 10 minutes before serving.
Ladle the soup into shallow bowls and drizzle a little olive oil over each serving.