Tuscan bread soup (Pappa al Pomodoro) is a traditional Italian recipe made with tomatoes and stale bread, that is as simple as it is delicious! I first had this amazing dish while on a wine tour in the Chianti region of Italy a couple years ago. We had a traditional Tuscan meal in the middle of a vineyard at Cassafrassi and the first course was Pappa al Pomodoro.
Simple Italian cooking only requires a few staple ingredients to impart most of the flavor in a dish. For that reason, using high quality ingredients is super important. The main components of Tuscan bread soup are San Marzano tomatoes, extra virgin olive oil, Italian red wine, and stale bread.
I also use my Homemade Vegetable Stock as the liquid component, but any broth or even just water will do.
San Marzano Tomatoes
I always use San Marzano tomatoes which can be a bit pricier than other canned tomatoes. Pro tip: they are always cheaper at Trader Joe’s! Cento is a fantastic brand that I always use for both tomatoes and tomato paste but you can substitute with whatever you have. However, using high quality tomatoes is what gives you that amazing flavor that needs very little added to it. But in a pinch, any canned tomatoes that you have in your pantry will work!
Good Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Another key ingredient is olive oil. So you want to make sure you’re using good olive oil. If you’re a nerd like me, you might enjoy this article all about the different kinds of Olive Oil. Long story short, since we’re using olive oil to impart extra flavor into our sauce, we want to use high quality extra virgin olive oil. The good stuff can be a little pricier but if you have a Costco membership you should definitely be using your membership to buy Costco Extra Virgin Olive Oil. It’s extremely affordable and delicious!
Italian Red Wine
For most of my cooking, I buy dedicated cheap white wine that I keep in the fridge and never drink. But since this dish is best served with a bottle of red wine, I just sacrifice a cup of the good stuff because it doesn't make sense for me to buy extra red wine to cook with.
One of my absolute favorite types of wine is Chianti. Similar to champagne, Chianti can only be called Chianti if it's grown in the Chianti region of Italy. It's a dry, medium-bodied red wine made with at least 80% Sangiovese grapes and it's 100% delicious!
Trader Joe's is always my first choice for wine. I've gotten many delicious bottles of Chianti at TJ's, like the one below.
Tuscan bread soup is traditionally made using leftover stale bread but you can use fresh bread too. The only rule is that it has to be good rustic style bread! Don't disgrace this dish by using a store bought sandwich loaf. Since I make my own Sourdough Bread, that's the obvious choice. But any good crusty loaf from a bakery will work!
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Tuscan Bread Soup
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil, divided
- 1 large shallot, finely diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes, optional
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 cup dry red wine
- 28 ounces San Marzano whole peeled tomatoes
- 2 cups Vegetable Stock, substitute water
- 2 cups stale sourdough bread, cubed (any good rustic bread will work)
- fresh thyme
- fresh basil
- In a large stockpot over medium heat, saute the shallot and garlic in 2 tablespoons of olive oil for about 5 minutes or until translucent and aromatic. Add in the salt, red pepper flakes, and tomato paste and continue to saute for another 2 minutes.
- Pour in the wine to deglaze the pan, making sure to scrape up any brown bits on the bottom.
- Add in the tomatoes and lightly crush them (I just use my hands), then pour in the stock and stir to combine everything.
- Once the soup begins to simmer, reduce the heat to low and add in the bread. Simmer for 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the bread is completely softened and the soup has thickened to a porridge like consistency.
- Drizzle with the remaining olive oil and top with fresh thyme and basil
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