I adapted this recipe from A Table in Tuscany by Leslie Forbes. I bought this cookbook on the bargain rack at a local bookstore MANY years ago. I think I actually bought two and gave one to my best friend as a gift. (We both dream about traveling and/or living in Tuscany one day!)
I had never made anything from this book. I wanted to adapt the recipes to using 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????
This was the story (with the following recipe) that I submitted to a contest sponsored by a bread company in 2009. I finally won some moolah and received a $50 Visa gift card.
Pappa al Pomodoro
(Tuscan Tomato and Bread Soup)
8 thick slices whole wheat bread
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 (I used a home-canned quart and pureed it.)
1/4 t. fresh ground black pepper
4 c. chicken stock
Parmesan cheese for garnishing
Heat oven to 250 degrees. Cube bread and place on a baking sheet. Place in oven to dry while the rest of ingredients are assembled.
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. Turn off heat and let stand for 10 minutes, covered. Season with salt and more pepper, to taste. May garnish with more fresh basil and Parmesan cheese.
Again, the basil bit the dust in the hoop house but I have planted more in the green house. Until then, I am relying on the frozen pesto in the freezer. (Actually, this was probably better than fresh basil—at least in a pinch it was.)
This is best eaten immediately. But, if you do have leftovers, you will probably have to add a bit more chicken stock when re-heating.
(Can you keep a secret? When I tested this recipe for the contest, I used my own homemade whole wheat bread, not the sponsors. Shhh!)
Stay tuned for some more winners and recipes that I was sure would win (and many disappointments)!