“Pappa al pomodoro” is a typical tuscan main dish. Its origins refer to the peasant tradition – Florence and Siena both claims it’s theirs, because it’s a really tasty food and everyone would be proud to have it… I mean, it’s so good they made a song about it!
When in Florence, you absolutely need to try it: you can do that by booking a Florence Food Tour with us.
The great thing about Pappa al pomodoro is that you can eat it warm in winter with a good red Chianti, but if you change, just slightly, the preparation, it’s a great plate to eat in a warm summer day with a vermentino or a vernaccia!
Pappa al Pomodoro is basically a bread and tomato soup with plenty of fresh local olive oil and basil. Tuscan bread is notoriously tasteless, because it is prepared without salt. As a result, the bread goes stale quite quickly: so, if you want to make it at home, make sure you take a fresh bread loaf, not salted and with a pretty thick dough. As usual, “sandwich bread” is not good at all!
Let’s go with the recipe!
500 g (about 2 cups) peeled tomatoes, chopped, preferrable the “piccadilly” or “ciliegino” quality
250 g (about 1/2 lb) stale bread (preferably Tuscan bread), cut into smallish pieces
1 liter (about 4 cups) vegetable broth, warmed
1 big onion, chopped
basil, chopped coarsely (with your hands!)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (you can also use seasoned or spicy oil)
salt and pepper
You can add carrots or chili or whatever you think it fits: as all peasant preparations, this one is easily customizable.
Start with preparing your soffritto in a large and tall (around 10 cm tall) saucepan, by sauté the chopped onions in a large amount of olive oil. Once they’re golden, you can add salt and pepper (or chili).
Add the tomatoes and let them cook on a slow flame until they are softened, but not still a sauce. Now you can add half of your broth and the bread. Stir carefully, the bread has to soak in all the liquids and swell.
Once it’s swollen add the other half of the broth and the basil, and keep the bread under the liquid surface, constantly.
Stop mixing for a while: when you see the oil solidify on the surface, stir it a little bit. Do that for about 5 times and… you’re ready!
Now you can take the pan off the fire and leave it rest. The longer the better! You can eat it lukewarm and the day after it would be even better. Just give it a nice splash of extravirgin olive oil and chop some fresh basil on it.
Way to eat a great Pappa al pomodoro in summer!