Day 11: A trip to Tuscany

I bought A Table in Tuscany by Leslie Forbes on the bargain rack at a local bookstore MANY years ago.  I actually bought two and gave one to my best friend.  When we were in college, we always imagined we would be living in far away, exotic places—New York City, Los Angeles, Paris, London, and of course, Tuscany.  So, this was a gift that brought back memories to us both and kept our dream alive of traveling to Italy one day.

I had never made anything from this cookbook and this was my first experiment.  I wanted to adapt this recipes to use canned tomatoes for ease, but I would love to try this with fresh tomatoes and throw in some fresh peppers as well.  And, hmmmm, homemade chicken stock????  I do use homemade whole wheat bread which works the best for this recipe, but any heavy, dense bread will work.

Pappa al Pomodoro   (Tuscan Tomato and Bread Soup)
Adapted from A Table in Tuscany by Leslie Forbes

6 slices thick-cut whole wheat bread, cubed and dried
1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil
1/2 c. chopped onion
1 t. minced garlic (about 2-3 cloves)
1/4 t. dried crushed red chili pepper
8 fresh basil leaves
1 (28 oz.) can crushed tomatoes
1/4 t. fresh ground black pepper
4 c. chicken stock
1/4 c. Parmesan cheese, grated

Heat oil in a large sauce pan.  Add the onion and cook until soft, about 7 minutes.  Add the garlic and red pepper.  Cook another 2 minutes.  Chiffonade basil leaves.  Add the basil, tomatoes and black pepper and bring to a simmer; simmer for 10 minutes.  Add stock and bring back to boil.  While mixture is boiling add the bread cubes.  Cook for two minutes more and let stand for 30 minutes, covered.  Reheat if necessary and stir in Parmesan cheese.  (If too thick, add 1-2 cups water.)  Season with salt and pepper.   May garnish with more fresh basil. 

Fresh basil is a must so you might have to wait until summer to make this!  (As soon as our basil in the green house is big enough to pick, I am going to revisit this recipe.)  I will repost the recipe again this summer when I have fresh basil, tomatoes, and peppers to throw in.

2 comments to Day 11: A trip to Tuscany

  • Which reminds me I have a couple of cookbooks I’ve bought many years ago that I haven’t really used too!!! Love the flavors in this recipe. Can’t go wrong with garlic and basil and pepper and cheesE!!