Pappa al Pomodoro (Servings: 8)
For this dish, the ripeness and flavor of the tomatoes is imperative. Therefore, make the soup when the tomatoes are abundant and ripe and at their best-in late summer. This "zuppa" is delicious warm or served at room temperature on a hot summer day.
Five 1/2 inch slices Italian bread, crusts removed
3 tbs. extra virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
1/2 cup finely diced onions
6 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
2 lbs. ripe plum tomatoes, peeled, seeded and juice reserved or one 35-ounce can Italian plum tomatoes, preferably San Marzano, seeded and cut into ½ inch dice, juices reserved
4 cups chicken stock
Freshly ground black pepper
10 fresh basil leaves
Directions: Preheat the oven to 375° F. Arrange the bread slices on a baking sheet and toast until light golden brown, about 10 minutes. Remove and set aside.
In a deep, heavy 4- to 5-quart pot heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and cook , stirring, until wilted, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until golden, about 6 minutes.
Add the tomatoes and their juices to the pot. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Add the toasted bread and stock and return to a boil. Season lightly with salt and pepper, then add the basil leaves and adjust the level of heat to a simmer. Cook, uncovered, whisking occasionally to break up the pieces of bread, until the mixture is dense and silky, about 40 minutes.
If desired, remove the garlic cloves and basil leaves. Pass the soup through a fine sieve, forcing the solids through with a ladle. (If necessary, first pass the soup through a food mill fitted with the fine disc). Correct the seasoning. Serve in warm bowls, drizzled with extra virgin olive oil.
Tomato and Bread Soup