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A Tuscan Tomato Soup Recipe That Is Delicious And Authentic

This Tuscan Tomato Soup recipe, known as Pappa al Pomodoro, is a hearty homemade Italian soup thickened with bread that is easy to make and packed with flavor.

Tuscan Tomato Soup

Tuscan Tomato Bread Soup

The Pappa al Pomodoro Recipe

This recipe is not very difficult, but it introduces a couple of cooking techniques that will serve you well in the future. It is simple, but with great ingredients as is common in Italian cooking, you can get bright flavors out of only a couple of ingredients. Try this recipe in the summer or in the winter and you will not be disappointed!

Tuscan Tomato Soup History

This Tuscan soup, Pappa al Pomodoro, is of peasant origin. It comes from the tradition of Cucina Povera, which translates to Poor Kitchen, but more accurately these are traditional Italian recipes born out of necessity. Most of the Italian dishes we all love today come from the tradition of poor cuisine.

Tuscan Tomato Soup - Blanching

Blanching The Tomatoes

Recipes that were born out of necessity and hunger and were created on the basis of the scraps of other preparations. In this case, the Tuscan bread used is supposed to be old and stale. The recipe was created to make sure even the oldest bread doesn’t get wasted.

This homemade Italian soup is excellent in winter as a hot soup, but Pappa al Pomodoro is delicious in the summer at room temperature. It should be enjoyed with excellent extra virgin olive oil drizzled over the top and chopped fresh basil leaves.

Mixing Bowls

Only recently have a realized how great mixing bowls with lids are and these stainless steel beauties are amazing!

Kitchen Tools And Cookware

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Pasta MakerGnocchi BoardPasta BoardRavioli Maker
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Dutch OvenMesh StrainersStainless ColanderStainless Steel Fry Pan

Tuscan Bread

Tuscan bread is as simple as it gets. It contains only flour, yeast and water. You might notice something missing and that is: Salt. Tuscan bread is unsalted. This might not seem like a big deal, but it is very noticeable. I am not a fan of plain Tuscan bread and many times when the wait staff brought out the obligatory basket of bread before our meal, I wanted to say: “No Thanks!”, but I didn’t.

Tuscan Tomato Soup - Adding The Bread

Adding The Tuscan Bread

The history is complex, so I’ll save that for another post, but the short version is that there was a salt tax in Florence a long time ago that made baking with it too expensive, so the bakers decided to leave it out. One justification for the lack of salt is that the food eaten with the Tuscan bread is so delicious that the salt in the bread isn’t needed, so slap some prosciutto and cheese between a couple of slices and it should be edible.

Tuscan Tomato Soup Preparation Thoughts

Preparing The Tomatoes

Santoku Knife

The Santoku style knife is my favorite when I’m cooking and Victorinox makes a great one!

One of the techniques that I liked with this recipe is how the tomatoes are prepared. You need to mark the bottom of the tomato by making an X with your knife. Then drop them into boiling water, but only for 15-20 seconds. You aren’t trying to cook them, only loosen the skin. You then immediately drop them into an ice bath, which is a large bowl of ice and water. This will prevent them from cooking any further. Now, starting with a paring knife, start peeling the skin from the bottom. Now you quarter them from top to bottom, removing the seeds and water, leaving only yummy tomatoes. Dice these up and they are ready for cooking. This preparation method can be used for many other dishes when you don’t want the skins and seeds. It seems similar to a French method called: Tomato Concassé.

Tuscan Tomato Soup - Peeling The Tomatoes

Peeling The Tomatoes

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Preparing The Tuscan Bread

As I wrote above, the intention of this recipe is to save stale old bread from being wasted, so it is necessary to use very dried bread. I’ve used dried breads when I’ve made my own stuffing for Thanksgiving, so one trick I would recommend is if your bread isn’t totally dried out, cube it ahead of time, and then leave it out to dry. Trying to chop up hard, dried bread can be tricky.

Tuscan Soup Variations

There are a number of variations you can try. For example:

  • You can use breads other than Tuscan if you have difficulty finding it, but it should be a hard crusty white bread if you want to keep the traditional flavors.

  • You can add more onions that the recipe calls for, just don’t make it an onion soup.

  • You can try it with different types of tomatoes, like heirloom or plum, but don’t go too small because they will be harder to peel, which is required.

  • Don’t use the same measurements if you are forced to use dried basil. It will be too easy to overwhelm the delicate flavors with dried herbs, so avoid it if possible.

  • I’ve seen some recipes suggest using dried pepper flakes. Tread lightly if you choose the picante path for your soup. Again, overwhelming the flavor is a real possibility.

  • You can use a broth (beef, chicken or vegetable) instead of hot water. It will add a bit more flavor.

  • Once you try the classic recipe, you can try small variations, like the addition of sautéed onions or leeks or of onions, carrots and celery.

Tuscan Tomato Soup - At A Restaurant

Tuscan Tomato Bread Soup At A Restaurant

Tuscan Tomato Soup Recipe

  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Prep Time: 15 mins
  • Cook: 30 mins
  • Servings: 4

Ingredients For Tuscan Tomato Soup

  • 18 ounces (500 grams) of ripe San Marzano tomatoes
  • 7 ounces (200 grams) of Tuscan bread (not fresh)
  • A Clove of Garlic
  • A Tablespoon of Diced Onions
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 10 Fresh Basil Leaves
  • Salt and Pepper To Taste

Cooking Instructions

  1. Cut a shallow X on the bottom of each tomato. Put the tomatoes in boiling water for a few seconds, and then remove them and put them into an ice bath.
  2. Remove the peels and quarter the tomatoes lengthwise. Remove the seeds and the water and dice the tomatoes.
  3. Peel and dice the onion.
  4. In a saucepan, heat 4 tablespoons of oil over low heat. Add a whole clove of garlic and the chopped onion and cook until the onions are translucent.
  5. Add the tomatoes and cook for 5 minutes more.
  6. Remove the garlic clove and add a ladle, around 4 ounces, of hot water. The sauce is left to cook for 5 minutes until it thickens.
  7. Add the salt and pepper, the bread cut into small pieces and the chopped basil to the tomatoes.
  8. Lower the heat and add another ladle of hot water. Leave the soup to cook for 30 minutes, stirring often with a wooden spoon.
  9. The Pappa al Pomodoro is divided into four bowls and left to rest to cool off a little.
  10. When it is no longer hot, serve the soup with a spoonful of oil and a basil leaf in the center of the bowl.

Tuscan Tomato Soup Serving Suggestions

  • This Tuscan soup isn’t supposed to be steaming hot. Make sure to let it rest a little and cool off. It isn’t a hearty fall stew, but rather a light soup good in the summer or the winter.
  • If you eat this Italian soup a little later, store it in the fridge and when you are ready to eat, bring it to room temperature. Neither hot nor cold.
Tuscan Tomato Soup - At Home

Topped With Fresh Basil

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