The Soupista, Week 2: Pappa al Pomodoro
I’ve been home sick for the last four days, and I missed most of the stunningly gorgeous, unseasonable weather that Chicago experienced while I was hiding out in my sick cave. I was greeted on my first day back at work with thunderstorms. Sigh. At least I should have my taste buds back soon, and can move on from PB&J and oatmeal. Anyways, the weather reference is a bit outdated in Jen’s post here, but this is my fault, not hers. Just use this as an excuse to close your eyes and transport yourself back to the mild, sunny weekend (maybe with a cup of this lovely soup in hand!).
I’m not really sure what is going on outside. This so called “Fall” is really throwing a wrench in my warm, cozy soup plans. Seriously, weather. Who wants to eat a thick vegetable slurry when the kitchen is a sweaty, unseasonably warm sauna ?
As a compromise between the offerings of summer and the heartiness of fall, I decided to make my Pappa al Pomodoro, which is just a fancy way of saying “tomato soup with bread mush.” It’s a perfect dish to make if you’ve got tons of tomatoes—fresh or canned—and stale or crusty bread. Really, you can’t mess it up. I usually make big batches of this, because I can’t get enough of it–it’s like a warm tomato hug.
This soup/stew is made a ton of different ways. My twist is that I like to put garlic bread in it, instead of just plain bread. And I like to keep the baguette slices whole instead of crushing them up. The best thing about cooking garlic bread and tomato soup at the same time is that that apartment smells like a back rub given by a jacuzzi; in a word, heavenly.
The secret to terrific Pomodoro(s?) is obviously fresh herbs, tomatoes, and shredded cheese. The secret to terrific garlic bread is to mash all the fresh garlic and herbs into the butter and spread it wholesale on the bread. The secret to a great mixed-green salad is to make it colorful and not drop it on the way to the table.
I also made a banana-y bread. Although tomatoes do not necessarily pair well with bananas, one of my roommates used some of our (seemingly bottomless) orchard apples to make some killer applesauce last week. Sadly, the poor sauce just has been sitting in the fridge. I mixed it with some cheap, brown bananas (19 cents/lb, baby!) for something I creatively named “Banana Applesauce Bread.” Behold my naming prowess! Anyway, the result was a delicious butter-less, oil-less quick bread that is moist and (sort of) healthy.
Regardless of the odd assortment of food, the whole “family” enjoyed the food and the entire meal came in under $15.
Editor’s note: Dear Soupista, Please provide us with the recipe for your banana-applesauce bread. We want to make it, too, and it sounds divine! So does this soup, by the way.
Jen’s Pappa al Pomodoro
3 lbs. tomatoes, seeded and cut into pieces
¼ c. olive oil
3-4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
½ c. onion, chopped
¼ c. fresh basil leaves, chopped
1/8 c. fresh sage, chopped
5 c. chicken stock
ssalt, black pepper, and cayenne pepper to taste
shredded cheese to top (Parmesan, Asiago, Romano, etc)
For the garlic bread:
1 medium baguette, sliced
½ stick butter, softened
4 cloves garlic
1 tsp. Italian seasoning
shredded parmesan cheese
In a soup pot, saute garlic and onion in oil for 1-2 minutes. Add sage and basil. Stir until fragrant. Add chopped tomatoes and about a cup of chicken stock. Cover and stew for 10 min. Add the remaining stock and simmer, occasionally smashing with spoon, for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and blend slightly with immersion blender until mostly smooth with some chunks.
For bread: Mix softened butter with garlic and herbs in a small bowl. Put bread slices on baking sheet and spread garlic butter on top. Sprinkle with cheese. Bake at 300 F for 20 minutes.
To serve: Place 2-3 pieces of garlic bread in a shallow bowl. Top with soup and cheese. Garnish with basil or sage leaves. Enjoy.