Tomato with Bread Soup

Pappa al Pomodoro

Columbus Day is right around the corner and I can think of no better way to commemorate the day than to share a recipe that typifies traditional Italian cooking. I’ve mentioned in the past that very little goes to waste in an Italian kitchen, bread being a perfect example. Like elsewhere in Europe, bread is baked or bought daily and seldom, if ever, is it discarded because it’s stale. Day old bread is used to make everything from bread crumbs to a delicious Tuscan salad known as Panzanella. {That recipe features Michigan heirloom tomatoes (What else?) and is from Bam’s Kitchen, a wonderful blog whose author currently lives in Hong Kong and offers recipes from around the world.}  Today’s recipe, Pappa al Pomodoro, is another that takes advantage of not just day old bread but, also, the glut of home-grown tomatoes that many experience during Summer. It is a simple dish to prepare but, oh, so very satisfying.

I cannot speak for everyone but I will say that the majority of us, growing up in Italian households, at one time or another experienced the simple pleasure of eating a piece of bread that had just been dipped in Mom’s or Nonna’s simmering pot of tomato sauce. As a boy, Mom would dunk a piece of crusty bread into the pot, blow on it a few times to cool the sauce, and then hand it to me with a warning to be careful because it was still hot. As I got older, I became an expert at sneaking a piece of bread into the pot and then my mouth in one fell swoop without her noticing. (Yeah, right!). Unfortunately, the sauce was every bit as hot as it was years before and a burned mouth was very often punishment for my devious ways. Even so, the reward of a piece of sauce-soaked bread made the risks worth while. And today, far too many years later to mention, my favorite way of checking the seasonings of my tomato sauce is with a chunk of bread, though I’ve grown a little more patient and a burned palate is rare.

Understanding that bit of my personal history may help you understand why I so enjoy Pappa al Pomodoro. Often described as having the consistency of baby food, one might wonder why ever would anyone like this soup. Well, one taste and you’re once again standing next to Mom or Nonna, eagerly waiting for her to blow on a sauce drenched tidbit. Here, though, instead of just having a crust of bread, you have an entire bowl to savor. Better still, the fresh basil and grated cheese gives this dish a wonderful aroma. I’m telling you, if you liked pieces of sauce-dipped bread as a child, you’re going to really enjoy this soup as an adult.

When making this soup, be sure to use the ripest tomatoes you can find. In fact, if they’re a little over-ripe, that’s just fine. As for the bread, it’s best to use day old bread with a good crust; fresh bread just won’t do. I use a small loaf of ciabatta and it works perfectly. If you’ve no day old bread, you can use fresh if you slice it and put it into a warm oven for a few minutes. You’re not trying to toast the bread, merely dry it somewhat, mimicking the feel of bread that’s just past being fresh. This is necessary because dried bread will receive the sauce much more readily than fresh. Think back to when you were a child. The best “samples” resulted from bread that had been fully drenched in the sauce. The same is true here. Lastly, be sure to garnish each serving with olive oil, freshly grated cheese, and a hand-torn leaf or two of fresh basil, the aromas of which will add so much to the dish.

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Pappa al Pomodoro Recipe

Ingredients

  • 3 tbsp olive ol
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced or grated
  • 2½ lbs of tomatoes, preferably plums, peeled, cored, seeded, and chopped
  • 2 cups vegetable stock – water may be substituted
  • about 9 oz of day old, crusty Italian bread, cut into cubes (I use a small ciabatta loaf.)
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  • olive oil, grated Pecorino Romano cheese, and whole basil leaves for garnish

Directions

  1. Heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add onions and sauté until translucent, about 5 – 8 minutes. Add garlic and continue cooking for another minute. Season lightly with salt and pepper.
  2. Add tomatoes, bring to a boil, and then reduce to a simmer. Cook until tomatoes begin to break down, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add the bread and stock to the pot, stirring until the bread is fully coated with the tomato mixture. Continue to simmer until the soup begins to have the consistency of  baby food.
  4. Hand tear the basil leaves, add to the pot, stir, and continue a low simmer for about 10 more minutes. Add more stock or water if it becomes too dry.
  5. Serve immediately, garnished with grated Pecorino Romano cheese, a drizzle of olive oil, and a leaf or two of fresh basil.

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Notes

What if you live here, in Chi-town, and you want a bowl of Pappa al Pomodoro but it’s January. Fear not! Although fresh, vine ripened tomatoes are always preferable, you can make this soup with canned tomatoes just as easily. Instead of using the 2½ lbs. of tomatoes listed in the recipe’s ingredients, substitute one large can of San Marzano tomatoes, crushing them by hand before you add them to the pot.

Speaking of San Marzano tomatoes, shopping for a can of the real thing can be a daunting task. Many cans will claim to be filled with San Marzano tomatoes but, after close inspection of the labels, you’ll learn that they are mere plum tomatoes and not their more famous — and expensive — cousins. How do you tell the difference? Like authentic balsamic vinegar, San Marzano tomato sales and distribution are tightly controlled. Click HERE to learn what must be on a can’s label for all San Marzano tomatoes. By the way, if the canned tomatoes are crushed, chopped, or puréed, they are not true San Marzanos. See? Click on the link.

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Coming soon to a monitor near you …

Italian Mozzarella!

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It’s déjà vu all over again …

With Columbus Day fast approaching, I thought it appropriate to take a look at not one but two posts from the past. The first will share my family’s recipe for a ravioli filling that consists of veal, pork, spinach, cheeses, and seasonings. The second will show you how to use a ravioli die to make the pasta pillows. Click HERE to see the ravioli filling recipe and  HERE to learn how to make the ravioli.

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120 thoughts on “Tomato with Bread Soup

  1. You make the raison d’etre for this and its cooking sound quite sensuous: as all ‘real’ food surely should be 🙂 ! Off to scout out Bam’s Kitchen . . .

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    • Thank you, Eha. This soup will surprise you. So simple but yet so very good. My hat’s off to that Nonna who, many, many years ago, realized that she could make a suit based on the chunks of bread dipped into her sauce pot. An unsung hero in the kitchen. 🙂

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  2. I’ve had this soup before in a very good, very authentic Italian restaurant and it’s excellent. I just love it. And now I know how to make my own! I love how the Italians use everything in their kitchen including stale bread and over-ripe tomatoes and turn these things into amazing treasure. And great story from your past – I used to hang around the kitchen a lot as a child too! xx

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    • I, too, love this soup, Charlie. One of our Italian chefs has said that unlike French cooking and its many precise rules, Italian food is based on the Nonnas’ cooking. This soup definitely has peasant origins and you can easily imagine a Grandma fixing this to feed a family for mere pennies. And as for me, the only place to hang out in that house was in the kitchen when Mom was cooking. It could be very rewarding. 😉

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    • Thanks, Elaine. You’re sowing seeds and I’ll be pulling my plants over the next couple days. If only our Summers would pass as slowly as our Winters do, eh? I wasn’t too pleased with my tomato harvest this year and will be going back to the seeds I bought 2 years ago. I’ve got some time, though, before ordering. Good luck with your seeds! 🙂

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    • It isn’t the most appealing way to describe a soup by saying it looks and has the consistency of baby food. Yet, as you know, this is one delicious soup, surprisingly so. I agree about the restaurants, too, and am appalled to see my fellow Americans queueing up at a McDonald’s in, say, Rome. It is sacrilege and they should be punished!

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  3. As always, a wonderful story from your childhood! 🙂 A few years ago I first ate and started making ribolitta, which was my first experience with a bread soup. It’s so good, and with my love for tomatoes I can only imagine how good this soup must be! And your mozzarella success looks wonderful and I’m so excited to read your next cheese post!

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    • Thank you so much, Stefanie. Ribolitta is a great soup, too, and you’re right. You would love this soup, too. So quick and easy to prepare. It really is something that you must give a try. 🙂

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  4. Looks delicious! I still dunk the bread in the sauce while it is simmering for hours! Loved that!

    I hope you don’t mind I reblogged one of your links to my new reblog page? I hope others that haven’t found your blog yet will follow that link right to it. I would like to reblog more too!

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    • Once you’ve been introduced to bread dipped in sauce, it is hard not to do it when there’s a pot of sauce on the stove.
      Mind? I’m honored that you would reblog one of my posts. Thank you, Judy. 🙂

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  5. Next time I have overripe tomatoes I will give this a try John. Sounds delicious – and we always seem to have day old bread after a Saturday lunch of baguette and cheese.

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    • Hello, Colline, and thank you. That’s the great thing about this soup. Many households today can prepare this soup without a run to the store. In the Old Days in farms across Italy, it was a cheap way to feed a family. I hope you, too, enjoy it.

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  6. The perfect recipe! – Few ingredients, yet wonderful comforting results. Thanks for taking us back to Nonna’s kitchen again. Seems like the place to be!

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    • You’re welcome, Dave. I bet you would have loved visiting my Mom’s kitchen as a boy. She would have given you all kinds of tidbits and treats but never so much to ruin your dinner. 🙂

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  7. Loved this post, John! And I will be sure the next time that I get the real deal with San Marzano, I confess falling for the imitations in the past. Knowledge is power…

    Interesting that one of my favorite meals growing up (I was THE pickiest eater of the known universe) was “pao com molho” – which is a sandwich of tomato sauce! Brings me great memories…

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    • Thanks, Sally. Finding that link was both a blessing and a curse. Yes, it was good to know what to look for but I learnt that some of the brands I’d been buying were fake. Not anymore, though!
      My family also made a sandwich using roasted, stuffed tomato leftovers and bread. What is it about tomatoes and bread that they go so well together? I hope you get the chance to try this soup. You’re going to love it!

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  8. Went to gustiBlog to learn about San Marzano tomatoes. Now when I go shopping I wiIl know what to look for. Thanks, always learning something from your post. This soup is in my comfort food file.
    My Italian neighbour gave me a bowl of pasta and potato. I thought this was kind of unusual, 2 starches in one dish. I gave her one of my butternut squash and again she is going to cook it with pasta. Could not understand all she was telling me but it mount to something about putting pasta in vegetable dishes. Could you help me out here?

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    • Hello, Norma. That San Marzano info is very helpful. I rely on it now when I go shopping for canned tomatoes.
      There are a number of ways to incorporate vegetables into a pasta dish. Potatoes and pasta are a rare combination but it is a good one. Mar posted one dish here, called Pizzoccheri. There are plenty of other vegetable & pasta recipes but most will depend upon the vegetables you wish to use. If you like, send me some of the vegetables you’d like to use or have available and I’ll gladly help in any way I can.

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    • Now, Tanya. I don’t want to hear about how the Bartolini Kitchens were responsible for a tomato stealing crime spree! So, if you’re going to steal them, just don’t tell anyone why. I can live with that. 🙂

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  9. Excellent soup! I cook up a tomato sauce like that, when I have too many tomatoes and freeze it. If I was growing tomatoes I think I’d can the excess, with garlic, basil and maybe a pinch of chilli included 😉

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    • Hey, MD! I don’t can any tomatoes or sauce. I use a lot of tomatoes and they would take up far too much space. Instead, I peel chop, and freeze plum tomatoes at Summer’s end each year. I have a spare freezer in my cellar that is pretty much reserved for tomatoes. As a result, I rarely need to buy canned tomatoes all winter — and I make a ton of pasta. 🙂

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  10. I could just see you burning your mouth trying to get the first taste! I know what you mean about the texture of food that if you didn’t grow up eating it, can sound a little off-putting to others. Eggs A La Golden Rod is the dish in our family — chopped hard boiled eggs served over toast with white country gravy. It too approaches the baby food category and the idea of it is not appealing to most of my friends, but it speaks “home” to me and my sisters. 🙂

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    • So you do understand, Judy! The thing is, it’s through dishes like these that I learned to be open about tasting other “weird” looking foods later in life. What a gift! I’ve had some amazing meals as a result.

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  11. Now this soup is calling my name! All my faves rolled into one soup…bread, cheese, tomatoes, basil and garlic, what can be more perfect? And I love that it can be made with canned Marzano tomatoes for those of us who are tomato-growing challenged. This is definitely a keeper recipe for me, John. And I had to laugh (with you) about the burning the palette tasting a sauce or soup. I’ve gotten better, but will never truly learn. 🙂

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    • This is one soup whose sum is better than its parts — and there’s nothing wrong with its parts! It is so very good, Betsy. I’m hoping to get some good tomatoes this weekend at the farmers markets. If successful, I’m going to try to make some soup and freeze it for wintry days ahead. What a great lunch they will make! And if I have a bowlful after spending a morning clearing snow, a burnt palate won’t be so bad. 🙂

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  12. Not to sound completely uneducated (yes, I was the one fooling around at the back of the class) could you tell me more about the celebrations for Columbus Day?? If you gave me a bowl of this soup, I’d sit very quietly and pay rapt attention to the lesson. I adore tomato soup, we used to have bowls with a grilled cheese sandwich on the side that we’d dip (that’s the Canadian way, eh) or we’d crush boring old crackers in and stir until it was thick. This is much more sensible and decadent.. the thought of bread thickened soup has me longing.. today I sit looking out at a snowy landscape. What a beautiful bowl of comfort this would be right now!!

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    • Ugh! Snow. I’d send you this soup Special Delivery, if I thought it would make it. We, too, eat grilled cheese sandwiches alongside a bowl of tomato soup, dunking allowed. Although we weren’t ones to crackerfy our soups, many did, I’m sure. This is one soup, Barb, you need to try. It is a satisfying bowl and so very easy to prepare. And it’s delicious!
      As for Columbus Day, I’m not all that sure of the festivities. It is a federal holiday, so, the Post Office, all government offices, and all schools & universities will be closed for the day. Like most major cities going East, with large italian-American communities, we have a parade but not much more. If the city has a “Little Italy”, the restaurants and shops may have something special or a street festival but that will depend on the city.
      Not to worry. The Bartolini Kitchens have a little something in mind. Stay tuned … 🙂

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  13. I found myself with a bit of time, a chilly morning, some tomatoes and basil still surviving in the garden and leftover ciabatta croutons (extra from a tomato/roasted corn salad). I made your soup using a bit less garlic and substituting my roasted-with-garlic ciabatta. It was delicious. The flavor of the tomatoes permeated everything in the soup. Thanks for an incredibly easy and yummy recipe.

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    • I am so glad you tried and liked this dish, Michelle. As you say, it’s incredibly easy and yummy. It is a favorite of mine and just about perfect for this time of year. Thanks for taking the time to drop by and “report in.” 🙂

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  14. Love this dish. Our chef often featured it as a special during the fall months. I always asked for a bowl. Will have to use up the last of my tomatoes before I resort to those they refer to as tomatoes in the vegetable section at the market.

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    • So you know how good this soup is, Susie! It wouldn’t be the end of Summer without a bowl of two of Pappa al Pomodoro. I’m going to hit the farmers market this Saturday just to buy tomatoes. I’m going to out up a big pot of this and freeze most of it. Sometime down the road, I’ll defrost, add basil, and enjoy! Like you, I just won’t buy tomatoes from the groceries once the markets have closed, if not before.

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  15. Wow, that link about San Marzano tomatoes is really informative. I learned quite a few things I didn’t know before. That alone would have been worth a post, but let’s not forget your great Pappa al Pomodoro recipe! Really nice job there. To most of us these days bread is nothing but fattening carbs to be avoided; for much of human history, it’s what fed us! So of course it shouldn’t be wasted. And this is a nice way to showing how to do that. Loved your story of eating some pasta sauce on bread. I never did that at home (my mother’s sauce was OK, but just; and we never had decent bread around, so I just dipped a teaspoon in and tasted that way!) but I had several good friends who were Italian. And the sauces their moms’ made was great! At their houses, I always dunked a bit of bread in to taste. It’s really the best way. Really enjoyable post – thank you.

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    • Thanks, John, for commenting. That link came just at the right time for me, John. A friend an I had been shopping and we were looking for San Marzanos. There were plenty of canned tomatoes but, looking at the labels, many were “San Marzano-like”, the “same as San Marzano”, etc. We never did find any that we were sure were the actual thing. A few days later, I found this website and it’s been heaven-sent.
      When I was very young living in the two-flat, the only freezer we had was the tiny one atop the fridge. Mom and Zia each made a tomato sauce at least once a week. With bread always on hand, sauce-drenched chunks of bread were a very common treat. I never have liked Oreos but give me some bread with sauce and I’m happy! This soup is very reminiscent of those treats.

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  16. Boy, I wish I’d had this recipe last week! All my tomatoes are done, and we’ll have to wait until next year to make it with home-grown…
    By the way, even this non-Italian gal figured out that the best way to taste a sauce was by dipping bread into it! 😉

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    • I know what you mean, Marie. I never did have enough of my own garden’s tomatoes to make this soup this year. Just like last week’s tomato jelly, I hope to get a good load of tomatoes this week at the market to make this soup and freeze it.
      And of course you dip your bread. Only the best cooks do! 😉

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  17. This is just lovely. Simple. Full of the best ingredients and hearty. I too have ripe tomatoes just waiting for me to make this.. they are on their last legs but there are some roma out there that should do the trick? Have a lovely day.. c

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    • I hope you do make this, Celi, You’re going to love it. In fact, it was probably someone like you, centuries ago, who first made this soup with end-of-season tomatoes and bread from the day before. It’s a sustainable farm kind of dish, or, as Mom would say, “Right up your alley/”

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    • Hey, Jed! This is one great soup and so very easy to make. And if you’re going meatless one day a week like your post today said, this is a great way to do it.

      As for the teaser, I finally was successful and made Italian mozzarella. I’m finishing up the last of the entry and will post it next week.

      As for my week, we went to see our last Cubs game of 2012. It was loss number 101 and even Flat Ruthie had given up on this team weeks ago. We had good seats, though. With so few in attendance, we could pretty much sit where we wanted. 🙂

      I hope you and Liz are enjoying your week, too.

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  18. You provided a lot of good information in this generous post! I am very interested in seeing what I can find with San Marzano tomatoes. All of that information was completely new to me, but I enjoy learning about the authenticity and quality of the best ingredients possible. And I love the sound of this delicious soup. The idea of bread and sauce is a natural, so this is just a winner recipe! Looking forward to that beautiful cheese, too! 🙂 Debra

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    • Hello, Debra! That website is a good one and has helped me to find the “real thing” when it comes to San Marzano tomatoes. If you can no longer get good fresh tomatoes — although is that ever a problem in California? — a can of San Marzanos will do nicely as the base for this soup. And once you try it, you’l be hooked like I am. It is just too good for so little effort. Try it, you’ll see. 🙂

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  19. I love the stories of your childhood! My mom worked but I spent a lot of time in my grandma’s kitchen. Luckily, she was very patient and always let me sample anything I wanted. I remember once telling her how wonderful I thought the vanilla extract smelled. She said, “Go ahead, take a little taste!” Ha! We both had a good giggle about that later in life.

    Your soup looks delicious! I’ve never had anything like it…except maybe tomato soup with tons of crackers, but of course, that certainly doesn’t hold up to a bowl full of delicious day old bread and ripe, homegrown, tomatoes! Oh and what I wouldn’t do for a huge handful of Romano cheese on top of that soup! Would make for a lovely breakfast. But such is life….I’ll be thinking about your delicious soup while I’m drinking hot tea and eating gluten free toast this morning. 😉

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    • Hello, April. Yeah, I guess I did spend a lot of time in Mom’s kitchen — or least did a lot of snacking there. I wish I knew more about GF breads so I could suggest a GF variation of this soup. I just don’t know if any of them would create the right consistency the way normal breads do. On the other hand, I’m sure you have a good recipe for tomato soup and that, too, is a very comforting soup, especially on these Fall days. Have a great weekend!

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  20. Wonderful soup, John. Our youngest son fka “Knothead” nka “Stinkin Genius” is a bread baby. His favorite thing in the whole world is bruschetta. I’m bookmarking this one to make for him when he comes home for Christmas.

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    • Thanks, Richard. Your son will really enjoy this soup. It is definitely reminiscent of bruschetta. I’m a little angry with myself for not having prepared it more frequently during this past Summer’s end. I’ll be heading to the farmers markets on Saturday looking for “good” tomatoes to make a big batch. I want to freeze most of it for the wintry days ahead.

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    • Hello, Francine. This is one easy pot of soup to prepare and one that you’ll surely enjoy. I hope you try it sometime. With chilly days ahead, a hot bowl of soup is the best! 🙂

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  21. Hi John!!!

    This is great! I’m excited about your recipe here….I make Ina’s Pappa Al Pomodoro allllllll the time. We both just love it. Having your recipe means a lot to me. I have quite a nice little file of your recipes now 🙂 Which means we’re eating well, Italian style! Yay! Thank you so much for THIS one. I can not wait to try it. I think next week, with its MUCH cooler temperatures, is going to be soup week around here….with this one being the star of the show 🙂

    You’re killing me with the Italian mozzarella picture!!!!! Just thought you should know. The 10th, right? RIGHT? 😉

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    • Howdy, Sarah!
      I’m familiar with Ina’s and Giada’s, too. Both use more vegetables than mine and are very good, too. As I just mentioned in another reply, I’ll be buying tomatoes on Saturday to make a big pot of this soup, much of which will be frozen for those cold days in November/December.
      Now breathe, Sarah. Yes, Italian Mozzarella is scheduled for Oct. 10th. This is the hardest cheese to make within the series and I finally got a result good enough to photograph and blog about. All I have to do now is write it up.
      I have to say, Sarah, that your comments, whether here or on other blogs, always leave me smiling. Saying that you’ve got a file for my recipes is a real day brightener, to be sure. Thanks! 🙂

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  22. Mmmm! There’s nothing better than fresh bread with an utterly fabulous soup. I’m glad to know canned tomatoes will work just as well. I’ve been doing some experiments with tomatoes lately, and this will be another one to try. Thanks for posting!

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    • In this area, good tomatoes will be disappearing shortly, being replaced by those flavorless red rocks in the groceries. I’d rather make this soup with canned tomatoes than those “fresh” bombs. I hope, though, you get a chance to make this now, while fresh tomatoes are still around. You certainly won’t regret it.
      Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment. 🙂

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    • Thanks, Greg. With all of those beautiful tomatoes in your garden every Summer, this is one soup you really should try. It’s so easy and has such great, satisfying pay-off. Give it a shot next Summer and you won’t be disappointed.

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    • Exactly! And that’s my plan. I’ll be at the farmers market early Saturday morning and there’ll be a pot of soup on my stove by afternoon. I hope you can find the time and tomatoes to do the same!
      Thanks for commenting. 🙂

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  23. John, I bought six tins of San Marzanos (Mutti brand) yesterday! Which is perfect, as tomatoes are out of season here, and they cost $12/kg! Any self-respecting nonna would throw rocks at the fruiterer before paying those sorts of prices! 😀

    There is always old bread here, so I’ll have to give this a go. Thank you!

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  24. Hi John, what a great fall soup! And that description of the sauce soaked bread was do perfect I actually licked my lips! I also had no idea on the tomatoes so I thank you kindly for the info.
    We’re losing our gorgeous light these days, aren’t we? Photos will be limited to weekends! I made a wonderful de Puy Lentil dish but by the time it was finished it was too dark! And then we ate all the leftovers today, completely forgetting to take the photo!
    It’s our thanksgiving this weekend so we’ll be enjoying turkey! Happy Canadian Thanksgiving to you.

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  25. The Pappa al Pomodoro dish looks divine, but my eyes keeo going to the Italian Mozzarella… I’ll keep a look out for the tinned San Marzanos as if Celia from Fig Jam and Lime Cordial bought some, I’ll be able to also, as she isn’t far from me, and I’ll look for the Mutti brand. I’m about to write a post loosely around tomatoes, as Celia also mentioned the price of which is currently a hot topic of conversation. Hopefully Summer will bring a glut, and I will make that delicious soup 🙂

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    • I hope you do get a chance to make this soup, EllaDee. It is really quite good. In fact, I’ll be leaving for the farmers market in a few minutes. We had a frost last night and this may be one of the last chances to get decent tomatoes for the year. I’m hoping to buy enough to make a double batch of soup, most of which destined for my freezer.
      This country’s food labeling can be very misleading. Websites like the one I provided are a big help for us in finding good quality ingredients. This one, in particular, has certainly helped me and I hope it will do the same for others.

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  26. This is one of my favourite soups and now I can make it for myself-thank you so much John!! I had something similar at a rather pricy restaurant in London not so long ago. We had a bowl just as a starter and it was a whopping £12.50 and bread to dunk in it was another £2.50 for 3 pieces of bread! It was nice but I’m betting your recipe is going to be better!!

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    • You are so very welcome, GD! You remind me of my Dad, He worked in Italian restaurants his entire life here in America. He would marvel at the price of, say, a spaghetti dinner, when he knew that for the price of that one dinner, you could easily serve enough pasta to feed a family — more than once.
      You can easily adjust this soup to suit your own tastes. Add more/less stock or change the ratio of bread to tomatoes to get to the flavor and texture you like. And if you think the stock will taste too strong, use water instead. It’s that simple.
      Just yesterday I went to a farmers market and bought 6 pounds of very ripe tomatoes. I made a double-batch of this soup and froze it all. Once our weather turns frigid, I’ll be dining very well. 🙂

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  27. Bonjourno and Gratzie John! Thanks for the lovely reference to Bam’s Kitchen. I completely understand the whole burn your palate on grandma’s sauce as I am also too impatient to let it cool. Then realize I have no taste buds left for the rest of the day. I love your version of this simple and comforting soup and would love a bowl if still available drizzled with a bit of EVOO and cheese. And speaking of cheese, wow I can’t wait to see your recipe for that mozzarella. Patience is not my best virtue.. hence my burnt tongue… Take Care, BAM

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    • Benvenuto a casa, BAM! I cannot wait to hear about your trip.
      You nailed it! The worst part of the burnt palate was being unable to taste the pasta served shortly thereafter. What punishment!
      I made a double batch of this soup yesterday after a trip to the farmers market. All of it went into the freezer and now I am ready for the cold weather. I hope you get a chance to make it. Just be patient when you taste it! 🙂
      You’ve only 2 days to wait before I post the Italian Mozzarella instructions. It is not the easiest cheese to make, that’s for sure.

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  28. There is a dish here called kallait bandoora which is made of ripe tomatoes sauted with onions and garlic but the difference is that it is served with pita bread, you dip the pita in the tomatoes and use it to scoop it up and eat it. I love that recipe and think I will love your soup as well

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    • Hello, Sawsan. I bet I would love kallait bandoora, too, especially if served with your homemade pita bread. It’s the combination of bread and tomatoes. You just cannot beat the taste. 🙂

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    • I thought that the Italians who read this could definitely identify. Whoever used/uses a spoon to taste a pot of sauce? That tomato link was an eye opener for me. I’d been “taken” a few times prior to reading that. Not anymore!

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  29. I think I remember you mentioning this soup on one of our posts before. Glad that you posted this one. I know it’s one I’ll make and love! Thought of you and Zia the other day. I got a pasta maker and tried my hand at homemade ravioli. It tasted phenomenal, but didn’t look very pretty. I’m just going to have to keep trying. Anyway, as I was making them, I couldn’t help but think of your stories of all the ravioli making at the holidays and on your last trip to MI. 🙂

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    • THis is a great recipe, Kisty but there are more important things to discuss. You have a pasta maker? YAY!!! What kind did you get. Does it oll & cut the dough? Will it form the ravioli? I’ve quite a few of all kinds and may be able to help you find the best technique for both you and the machine. You’re right, though, that practice is the key. The more often you make ravioli, the better at it you will become — and just think of all of the great dinners you’ll have in the meantime. 🙂

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  30. Thanks for sharing this! I’ve heard about Pappa al Pomodoro, but have never had any. I’m going to give it a try based on your excellently written recipe.
    Unfortunately San Marzano tomatoes are difficult to find in this country, and over $3.50 for a 14 oz can. I ordered a few cans online to experiment with and to see if I could taste the difference.

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  31. It is maddening that this country will allow some companies to, basically, trick us into buying what we think are San Marzanos but are really just plum tomatos. We have the same problem with balsamic vinegar and olive oil. You’re right about the cost, too. If the tomatoes seem too cheap for San Marzanos, they probably aren’t the real thing. I do hope you give this recipe a try, Stefan, and like it as much as we do. Thanks, again, for leaving such a nice compliment.

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  32. This is what I’ll be making in August when my cherry tomato plants try to take over the house! Bread & tomatoes, the dynamic duo 🙂 Thanks for the recipe.

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    • This is a great soup! I’ve some in my freezer. Serving it now will be a reminder that Summer is coming. I hope you do make it and enjoy it as much as we do.
      Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment.

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  33. Pingback: Ramps Ravioli with Morel Mushrooms | from the Bartolini kitchens

  34. This soup is right down my alley. Fresh tomatoes now, and then I’ll use Cento. Our sons work at Trader Joe’s, don’t know if you have them in Chicago, but they carry Cento canned San Marzano. I read all the comments on the link you provided…wow, such controversy.

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    • This is a good soup, Angeline, and really does remind me of my youth, when Mom would dip a piece of bread into her pot of sauce and give me a taste. We do have Trader Joe’s, though I buy my San Marzano tomatoes at the Italian market. I just look for the pair of Italian Gov’t seals on the can and won’t purchase a can without them. Yes, I also read the comments, too. People sure do feel strongly about their tomatoes!

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  35. Thanks for the blast from the past link on your most recent post. I did see this and wanted to make this soup almost a year ago when you posted it but only just today did I get the motivation and opportunity to actually try it! I made a tomato sauce for lunch and then this evening added the vegetable broth, stale Italian bread and basil in for dinner and it was fabulous! I love when I can multitask with a recipe, thanks!

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    • You’re so welcome, Laura, and I’m pleased you like this soup. It is such a simple recipe but it sure does have great flavor. I’ve a bunch of tomatoes that I’m letting get almost overripe that are destined for a pot of pappa al pomodoro. I can’t wait! Thanks for taking the time to come back and tell me about your experience, Laura. Hope you’re having a great weekend!

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  36. The Ontarian has arrived:
    I told you, you could make an excellent salesman. The advert for Pappa al Pomodoro was so convincing, I had to click on it. I am glad it’s a traditional Italian recipe (I can add that to my “authentic Italian recipes”) and good to know that nothing goes to waste in an Italian kitchen. I bet you used to hang around that simmering tomato sauce, John, and that bit about you sneaking bread into the pot without notice, clever little boy. Don’t you LOL when you remember that? And the burned mouth bit…hilarious.
    Now that bit about checking seasoning with a chunk of bread, it’s new to me, I would love to try it, but if one overdoes it then dinner will have been served in the cooking pot. I hear you on “not toasting, merely mimicking one day old bread”
    John you seem to use Pecorino Romano a lot, why? I am just curious. And another thing what should this ‘baby food sauce” be served with? You didn’t mention anything about serving. Is it just eaten on its own? Thanks for sharing. I would love to try this. It’s an excellent recipe for a lazy procrastinator, like me. Wish you a lovely week and hugs to Max!

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    • Welcome back! You’re too kind, Liz, and you always remember Max. He’d tell you thanks himself but he’s having a snooze right now. This soup is really a peasant’s dish. It was a way to use up over-ripe tomatoes and old bread to get dinner on the table. Yes, nothing was wasted then or now. Mom & Zia were products of the Great Depression and for them there are few worse sins than to waste food.
      Yes, we dipped bread into the sauce pot. Mom did it to check for seasoning; we did it because it tasted good. I think it’s a fairly common practice in Italian households. A friend’s Grandmother would say “Once or twice is a taste. Three times is a meal.” as a means of stopping the dippers. This soup really does taste like the “dips” all those years ago. More than anything, I like it because of the memories each mouthful evokes.
      Have a safe trip back to Ontario, Liz, and a great week!

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  37. Pingback: New York Style Cheesecake | from the Bartolini kitchens

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