Tomato and Bread Soup

Pappa al Pomodoro

MAKES: 4 to 6 servings

TIME: 30 minutes

Pappa, in Italian, in case you couldn’t guess, is related to papin other words, mush. This is the best possible mush, a Tuscan dish of ripe tomatoes, good bread, and flavorful oil. When made with good ingredients, including aromatic basil, it’s fabulous.

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus a drizzle for garnish

1 large onion, sliced

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1 dried red chile (optional)

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

3 cups peeled, cored, seeded, and chopped tomato (canned outside of prime tomato season)

1 to 2 cups vegetable stock, preferably warmed, water, or the liquid from the tomatoes if you’re using canned

1/2 a loaf (or more) day-old French or Italian bread, cut into cubes

1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, torn (optional but very nice)

01 Put the oil in a large, deep saucepan or casserole over medium heat. When hot, add the onion, garlic, and dried chile if you’re using it. Season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring, until the garlic is fragrant and golden and the onion begins to soften, about 5 minutes.

02 Add the tomato and cook, stirring occasionally, until the pieces break up, 10 to 15 minutes. Add the stock, stir in the bread, and simmer for another minute.

03 Take the pot off the heat, check the seasoning, and let it sit until the bread is saturated with the soup, about 10 minutes. (You may prepare the soup in advance up to this point. Cover, refrigerate for up to 2 days, and reheat before proceeding.)

04 Check the seasoning again, stir in the basil, divide the soup among bowls, and garnish with a drizzle of oil and more freshly ground black pepper.