Wednesday 4 January 2012

Pappa al Pomodoro

This soup is so fresh tasting and is even better for leftovers the next day.  The real treat to this soup is the baked pancetta and basil that you add to the top, delicious!  This recipe is one of Ina Gartens, she has a few different tomato based soups...this one is by far our favorite.  Enjoy!

Pappa al Pomodoro
  • 1/2 cup good olive oil
  • 2 cups chopped yellow onions (2 onions)
  • 1 cup medium-diced carrots, unpeeled (3 carrots)
  • 1 fennel bulb, trimmed, cored, and medium-diced (1 1/2 cups)
  • 4 tspns. minced garlic (4 cloves)
  • 3 cups (1 inch) diced ciabatta bread, crusts removed
  • 2 (28oz.) cans good Italian plum tomatoes
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine
  • 1 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
  • kosher salt & fresh ground pepper
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • For the topping:  3 cups (1 inch) diced ciabatta bread, 2 oz. thickly sliced pancetta, chopped; 24-30 whole basil leaves, 3 Tbl. good olive oil, plus more for serving
-Heat the oil in a large stockpot over medium heat.  Add the onions, carrots, fennel, and garlic and cook over medium-low heat for 10 minutes, until tender.  Add the ciabatta cubes and cook for 5 more minutes.

-Place the tomatoes in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade and process just until coarsely chopped.  Add the tomatoes to the pot along with the chicken stock, red wine, basil, 1 Tbl. salt, and 1 1/2 tspns. pepper.  Bring the soup to a boil, lower the heat, and allow to simmer, partially covered, for 45 minutes.  Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  For the topping, place the ciabatta, pancetta, and basil on a sheet pan large enough to hold them in a single layer.  Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and toss well.  Cook, stirring occasionally , for 20-25 minutes, until all the ingredients are crisp.  The basil leaves will turn dark and crisp, which is perfectly fine.

-Reheat the soup, if necessary, and beat with a wire whisk until the bread is broken up.  If you need to use an immersion blender, that may help break it up, but don't blend too much.  Stir in the Parmesan and taste for seasoning.  Serve hot, sprinkled with the topping and drizzled with additional olive oil.

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