Pappa al Pomodoro
Pappa al Pomodoro is a hearty and flavorfully balanced Tuscan soup made with tomatoes and bread. Pappa al Pomodoro has all the characteristic of Tuscan cooking: simple, genuine, flavorful. This quintessential Florentine dish stands as testament of the modest cooking style of my native Italy where low-cost ingredients were assembled with ingenious creativity and the preparation of every dish was dictated not by rushing the cooking process but from a careful selection and compounding of the ingredients.
Typically, Pappa al Pomodoro is usually made during summer months, when the unique scent of sweet ripe tomatoes fills the air. The bread should be white, hardened, at least a day old and for best result not baked with oil or butter. Bread is also a main ingredient in other rediscovered Tuscan peasant dishes like Ribollita and Panzanella. Florence is the only city in Italy where bread is made without salt, even the absence of salt in bread is testimony to the simplicity that characterizes the cuisine of my area. Like many other Tuscan dishes the “pappa” is not an eye-candy dish, but you’ll notice its proximity by the unmistakable sweet fragrance that emanates.
Now here is comes the comical part: in 1964 this dish got a big push in notoriety throughout Italy thanks to the song “Viva La Pappa Al Pomodoro” from a TV show inspired from an old Florentine children book. Here are the translated opening lyrics: “The history of the past, has now taught us, that hungry people start a revolution”.
Even as a rookie cook you won’t be disappointed by making this delicious soup; use my “pappa” recipe below. Eat it hot or at room temperature…you won’t be disappointed!
3 oz Celery
3 oz Carrot
6 oz Red Onion
1 lb Fresh ripe tomatoes
3 Garlic cloves chopped
1 lb Hardened bread soaked in water
1/3 cup Olive Oil
1 qt Water or Chicken Stock
Chop the onions, celery and carrot very finely and put it in a pan with the olive oil. Cook the vegetables until they become a golden color. Add the tomatoes previously cut in pieces, the garlic and some chicken stock, let it cook for 10-15 minutes on medium-low heat.
Strain the soaked bread and squeeze it with your hands to dry it from the excess water and pour it in the tomatoes, add more stock if necessary.
Cook the soup for 20 or more minutes, stirring very often not allowing the bread stick to the bottom of the pan. Once it is ready add the finely chopped basil.