Pappa Al Pomidoro

Italian, Main Courses, Soup / Saturday, December 27th, 2008


Are you as dog-dead tired as I am?

We’ve been wassailing and making merry for two weeks and seven parties so far, and I’m ready to park my jingle bells on the couch. I’m ready to watch a marathon of “House” or “Law and Order.” I’m ready to go to bed without having to pick the glitter off my face.

And I’m so ready for another bowl of Ina Garten’s Pappa Al Pomidoro, one of this month’s Barefoot Bloggers picks. Warm, thick and full of flavor, this Tuscan bread-and-tomato soup is just the thing to sneak a few vitamins and minerals into a body that’s grown strangely accustomed to copious amounts of cheese straws and coconut cake. You’ll start by heating your aromatics–onions, carrots, fennel and garlic–in half a cup of good olive oil. Toss in a few handfuls of ciabatta cubes and a couple of cans of Italian plum tomatoes. Add chicken stock, red wine, basil, salt and pepper, bring everything to a boil, and then let it simmer for about 45 minutes.

You know it wouldn’t be a Barefoot Contessa recipe if it stopped there. While the soup is simmering, scatter ciabatta cubes, pancetta and fresh basil on a sheet pan. Drizzle them with olive oil, and let them crisp inside the oven. (Don’t freak out if you’re basil turns black. Perfectly normal.) Once the soup is done, stir in some freshly grated Parmesan, sprinkle on the topping, and add a little extra olive

Ina’s Pappa Al Pomidoro turns out to be a study in complements: the way the crispy crunchiness of the topping livens up the dense bready soup, the salty pancetta tempers the sweet brightness of the tomatoes, and the way the basil and olive oil in the topping and the soup meld the flavors together.

It’s a soup that’s worth the trouble. Even if you have one more Christmas party to go.

Pappa Al Pomidoro

From Ina Garten’s “Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics”

Serves 6

  • 1/2 cup good olive oil
  • 2 cups chopped yellow onion (2 onions)
  • 1 cup medium-diced carrots, unpeeled (3 carrots)
  • 1 fennel bulb, trimmed, cored, and medium-diced (1 1/2 cups)
  • 4 teaspoons minced garlic (4 cloves)
  • 3 cups (1-inch) diced ciabatta cubes, crusts removed
  • 2 (28-ounce) cans good Italian plum tomatoes
  • 4 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine
  • 1 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan

  • 3 cups (1-inch) diced ciabatta cubes
  • 2 ounces thickly sliced pancetta, chopped
  • 24 to 30 whole fresh basil leaves
  • 3 tablespoons good olive oil, plus more for serving
  • Salt and pepper
  1. 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.
  2. Add the ciabatta cubes and cook for 5 more minutes.
  3. 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 tablespoon salt, and 1 1/2 teaspoons pepper. Bring the soup to a boil, lower the heat, and allow to simmer, partially covered, for 45 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  5. For the topping, place the ciabatta cubes, 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 to 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, beat with a wire whisk until the bread is broken up. Stir in the Parmesan and taste for seasoning. Serve hot sprinkled with the topping and drizzled with additional olive oil.

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15 thoughts on “Pappa Al Pomidoro

    1. Summer: Of course, you could steal some. As long as you promised to walk Henry the Wonderdog. I’m too tired.

      HoneyB: It’s so good, Jeff ate it, and he hates tomato soup. Must have been overpowered by the scent of pancetta.

      chocolatechic: I’m feeling your pain. But I’m so glad you guys got to stay home for Christmas this year and enjoy the time in your jammies.

      DebinHawaii: The topping was my favorite part. It actually stayed pretty crispy in the fridge. Loved the pancetta.

      Di: Naps for everyone!

  1. This looks like a good recipe to start the New Year with. Yum!!!! I am with Summer, I am too tired to make my own right now!! Thanks for posting

  2. This looks great! I’m so out of it right now that not only did I not make this, but I didn’t even know it was on the list! Blogging group slacker, that’s what I am! I am going to play catch up when the new year begins. And this will be right at the top of the list. Hope you had a great holiday!

  3. I can’t wait to make this. I will be one of the last minute Barefoot Bloggers this month. I was going to make it for dinner tonight but my bakery was out of ciabatta today. The universe is conspiring against me! ;)

  4. Oh wow. That looks fabulous. And you’re totally right… my body is in DESPERATE need of vitamins, so much so that it’s thanking me for the apple pie I just ate. With what I’ve been eating, that totally counts as a fruit serving. Ouch.

  5. That is a “MUST MAKE” very soon, my mouth is watering just looking at the picture. Thanks for sharing and go relax with a piping hot bowl and your drink of choice, you deserve it.

  6. Ugh. Of course, we aren’t even done with parties with several more to attend this weekend and our own to host New Years eve.
    I didn’t do the soup, I have this thing about soggy bread. Maybe I’ll come up with something.

  7. Ginger: I’m lucky I made mine before the chaos really kicked off. Now I just want to zzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

    Cathy: Hope you guys are having fun! I’ve been a BB slacker, too. Maybe I’ll make the savory palmiers next year …

    Jessica: My bakery didn’t have ciabatta, either, so I just grabbed some Italian bread. Don’t tell Ina!

    My First Kitchen: I’m with you. We ate out with some friends in the middle of Christmas shopping, and all I had was a slice of apple pie. With ice cream. That’s fruit AND dairy. God, I need a multivitamin.

    Patty: Mmmm, “relax.” The word is so familiar. ;)

    Cat: You’re HOSTING a party? Whee! What are you having? We’re going out for our anniversary that night, but I can see us doing a NYE party in the future. Once I’ve had a nap.

  8. Since I’m living in Italy, I must must try this. Looks delicous! (And ciabatta is a staple here.) thanks for sharing!

  9. i just made this tonight and it was excellent. i made the full recipe so i’m going to be eating this soup for days! yours looks delicious.

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