Pappa Al Pomodoro

July 29, 2012

Hi there! Welcome to summer in a bowl:

I made this soup last summer when my basil was growing like crazy.  It takes 1 cup + 20-30 leaves for the topping. And it’s flavors have haunted me. Whenever I have a leftover loaf of bread, I scramble to get the other ingredients together.  Those Italians know what to do with leftover bread!

In this soup, like in all cooking, quality counts! I use San Marzano tomatoes and the best organic stock I can buy if I don’t have any homemade.

You start with these aromatic flavor bases…


Add cubes of bread…

Then tomatoes, dry red wine (I used Cabernet Sauvignon) and basil, salt and pepper….

Then simmer on the stove.  While that is cooking, you make the BEST part. This topping:


Toasted bread crumbs with panchetta. It is heaven.  You are supposed to add 20-30 basil leaves but I didn’t want to use up my whole supply. I added a few though and wished I had more.

When it is done, use an immersion blender to create the texture you want.  If it is too think, add some water.

This soup is so good, I can’t stop eating it.  The toppings make it salty-chewy-crunchy, and the flavors in the soup make you feel like you are drinking a sun-ripened field of tomatoes and basil in Tuscany.   Buon appetito!


Pappa Al Pomodoro

from Ina Garten Back to Basics cookbook


  • 1/2 cup good olive oil
  • 2 cups chopped yellow onion (2 onions)
  • 1 cup medium-diced carrots, unpeeled (3 carrots)
  • 1 fennel bulb, trimmed, cored, and medium-diced (1 1/2 cups)
  • 4 teaspoons minced garlic (4 cloves)
  • 3 cups (1-inch) diced ciabatta cubes, crusts removed
  • 2 (28-ounce) cans good Italian plum tomatoes
  • 4 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine
  • 1 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan

For the topping:

  • 3 cups (1-inch) diced ciabatta cubes
  • 2 ounces thickly sliced pancetta, chopped
  • 24 to 30 whole fresh basil leaves
  • 3 tablespoons good olive oil, plus more for serving
  • Salt and pepper

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