Devising ideas for dishes that I want to make is something that I never seem to have trouble with. My Pinterest account is filled with literally thousands of links to every conceivable type of recipe, and I’m constantly browsing my favorite food blogs for inspiration. In fact, I have a running list of dishes that I’m constantly adding to and reordering; I turn to this list and choose a few items when I’m planning upcoming meals. Usually I’m forced to restrain myself, as I often desire to cook and experiment with many more new dishes in a week than I can possibly eat!
The bigger challenge than finding recipes to try is optimizing these choices to make the best use of ingredients. I’m constantly trying to use up items in the fridge, so that nothing goes to waste. I love it when I find a delicious-looking recipe that also happens to require the cup of buttermilk or few sprigs of fresh parsley that I have leftover from another project.
I choose to make this particular dish – Pappa al Pomodoro – because two items lingering in my fridge were featured on the short ingredient list. Luckily, the resulting soup was surprisingly delicious – I’ve stumbled upon a new favorite! I discovered this tomato soup as I was flipping through one of my Barefoot Contessa cookbooks. It features lots of tomato chunks (two large cans!), onions, garlic, and a healthy dose of olive oil. But the key ingredients is chunks of stale bread, which are allowed to braise until soft in a combination of broth and the tomatoes’ juices. As the bread breaks down, it soaks up all of the flavors and thickens the soup to create the perfect hearty, chunky stew.
When I noticed that the recipe contained both stale bread and a generous amount of broth, two items I was eager to use up, it moved straight to the top of my must-make list. Shortly after, the weather turned from warm and sunny to cold and cloudy. The day it rained, I enjoyed this warm and rich soup for a simple and comforting dinner. The Barefoot Contessa’s recipe is quite straight-forward, but I simplified it even further. I wanted a dish that required minimal hands-on time and just the ingredients that you likely already have in your pantry. The result: a homey, Italian-style tomato soup that’s easy to prepare whenever you’re craving comfort food – or just need to use up some stale bread!
Pappa al Pomodoro
Adapted from Back to Basics
Makes 6 servings
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 2 onions, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 4 cups stale bread cubes
- 2 28-ounce cans diced tomatoes
- 4 cups vegetable or chicken broth, preferably homemade
- 1 teaspoon each salt and black pepper
- olive oil, pesto, and parmesan, for serving (optional)
- In a large soup pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onions and cook until lightly browned and tender, about ten minutes. Add garlic and cook two minutes more.
- Add bread cubes and stir well. Cook five more minutes.
- Add tomatoes, broth, salt, and pepper. Raise heat to high and bring soup to a boil. Reduce heat back to medium and let simmer, stirring regularly, for forty five minutes.
- Serve soup with a drizzle of good olive oil, a spoonful of pesto, and a sprinkle of parmesan.