Week 2 of me being left home alone by Mr. Mango– loneliness is setting in (poor me), but the house is close to sparkling clean (oh, the joy of not having to pick up after an extra person 😉 ) We both like to cook and usually split the cooking duties, although I usually end up doing the cleaning.
The day after Christmas, as I was sitting home alone, I decided to cook up one of the recipes on this month’s to-cook list: Barefoot Contessa’s Pappa Al Pomidoro. Pappa Al Pomidoro is a country Tuscan bread soup. I was mega-excited to try out this recipe since I’ve been on a bit of a soup kick the past few months as evidenced by the Roasted Butternut Squash Soup, Mexican Chicken Soup, Turkey and White Bean Chili, Ranchero Beef Stew, and Hungarian Beef & Potato Soup that I’ve made and posted about. I figured a soup would keep me warm & cozy in my husband’s absence. I won’t go so far as to say that I cuddled with the soup though. that would just be crazy.
The Pappa Al Pomidoro is comprised mostly of veggies, tomatoes, and bread. The bread dissolves as the soup cooks and the result is a broth that is thickened by the bread bits. (maybe not the most low-carb diet friendly soup!) I made the Pappa Al Pomidoro recipe without the pancetta in the topping and it was still super delicious and the perfect soup for a cold December evening. I loved the touch of the toasted bread and basil on top, it added a different texture and more intense basil flavor.
This delish recipe was selected by Natalie at Burned Bits, who has a wicked cute blog so be sure to stop by and check it out. Check out the recipe after the jump.
Pappa Al Pomidoro (from Ina Garten’s Back to Basics)
- 1/2 cup good olive oil
- 2 cups chopped yellow onion (2 onions)
- 1 cup medium-diced carrots, unpeeled (3 carrots)
- 1 fennel bulb, trimmed, cored, and medium-diced (1 1/2 cups)
- 4 teaspoons minced garlic (4 cloves)
- 3 cups (1-inch) diced ciabatta cubes, crusts removed
- 2 (28-ounce) cans good Italian plum tomatoes
- 4 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
- 1/2 cup dry red wine
- 1 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
For the topping:
- 3 cups (1-inch) diced ciabatta cubes
- 2 ounces thickly sliced pancetta, chopped (I left this out)
- 24 to 30 whole fresh basil leaves
- 3 tablespoons good olive oil, plus more for serving
Salt and pepper
- Heat the oil in a large stockpot over medium heat. Add the onions, carrots, fennel, and garlic and cook over medium-low heat for 10 minutes, until tender.
- Add the ciabatta cubes and cook for 5 more minutes.
- Place the tomatoes in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade and process just until coarsely chopped. Add the tomatoes to the pot along with the chicken stock, red wine, basil, 1 tablespoon salt, and 1 1/2 teaspoons pepper. Bring the soup to a boil, lower the heat, and allow to simmer, partially covered, for 45 minutes.
- Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
- For the topping, place the ciabatta cubes, pancetta, and basil on a sheet pan large enough to hold them in a single layer. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and toss well. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 20 to 25 minutes, until all the ingredients are crisp. The basil leaves will turn dark and crisp, which is perfectly fine.
- Reheat the soup, if necessary, beat with a wire whisk until the bread is broken up. Stir in the Parmesan and taste for seasoning. Serve hot sprinkled with the topping and drizzled with additional olive oil.