Pappa al Pomodor
Makes 8 Servings
Five 1/2-inch-thick slices Italian bread, crusts removed
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
1/2 cup finely diced onions
6 garlic cloves, crushed
2 pounds ripe plum tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/2-inch dice, juices reserved, or one 35-ounce can Italian plum tomatoes, preferably San Marzano, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch dice, juices reserved
4 cups Chicken Stock or canned low-sodium chicken broth
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
10 fresh basil leaves, washed and dried
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Arrange the bread slices on a baking sheet and toast until light golden brown, about 10 minutes. Remove and set aside.
In a deep, heavy 4- to 5-quart pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring, until wilted, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic cloves and cook, stirring, until golden, about 6 minutes.
Add the tomatoes and their juices to the pot. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Add the toasted bread and stock and return to a boil. Season lightly with salt and pepper, then add the basil leaves and adjust the level of heat to a simmer. Cook, uncovered, whisking occasionally to break up the pieces of bread, until the mixture is dense and silky, about 40 minutes.
If desired, remove the garlic cloves and basil leaves. Pass the soup through a fine sieve, forcing the solids through with a ladle. (If necessary, first pass the soup through a food mil fitted with the fine disc.) Correct the seasoning. Serve in warm bowls, drizzled with extra virgin olive oil.
copyright Lidia Bastianich