pappa al pomodoro
(a soup to be made only at the height of tomato season!)
1 loaf Italian country-style bread, at least day-old, crusts removed, cut into large cubes
2 cloves garlic, squashed
½ large onion, diced
2 Tb extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for garnish
1 bay leaf
12-15 large, ripe field tomatoes
basil, several large sprigs plus leaves for garnish
vegetables for broth ( if using)
1 Peel the tomatoes. First remove the cores then blanch for a minute or so in boiling water then transfer to a bowl of iced water. Drain and peel, reserving the peels. Chop the tomatoes in small dice.
2 Make a vegetable broth with the reserved tomato peels, ½ onion, celery stalk, small carrot all chopped, some parsley, a bay leaf, a clove of garlic, and if you have them some hard left-over cheese rinds well washed. Cover with about 8c cold water and simmer for 30m
3 Warm the olive oil in a large soup pot. Add the garlic cloves and cook gently until golden and remove. Add the onion, bay leaf and continue until softened but not coloured, stirring frequently. Add tomatoes, salt, sprigs of basil. Raise the heat and cook at a steady simmer, covered, for 20m.
4 Strain broth and add to tomatoes. Cook for another 20m.
5 Add dry bread cubes and continue to cook, 10m.
6 Remove basil. Off the heat whisk the soup vigorously to break up the bread.. Check for salt. If required a splash of red wine vinegar to sharpen or a pinch of sugar to sweeten can be added to taste.
7 Serve with some extra leaves of basil in each bowl, a generous drizzle of your best extra virgin olive oil and a grind of black pepper.
Makes 12 portions