Pappa al Pomodoro - Tomato Bread Soup
Chef: Michael Chiarello
Serves: 6 people
5 pounds fresh Roma (plum) tomatoes
28 oz can peeled whole tomatoes
4 cups extra-virgin olive oil
1 tbsp minced garlic
4 cups diced crustless bread, preferably from a slightly stale country-style loaf
Sea salt, preferably gray salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
Core each fresh tomato, mark a shallow X in the opposite end, and blanch in a pot of boiling water for 30 seconds.
Transfer to cold water to cool briefly, then peel the tomatoes.
Cut the tomatoes in half, scoop out the seeds with your fingers, then chop. (I prefer to squish the pulp into a large bowl.)
Drain, reserving the liquid in a bowl.
Empty the pulp into another bowl. Open the can of tomatoes and drain, adding the liquid to the reserved fresh tomato liquid and the canned tomatoes to the fresh tomato pulp.
Heat a large stockpot over medium heat, add 1 cup of the olive oil, and sauté the garlic until golden and aromatic, about 30 seconds. *Pay attention because it colors quickly, and dark garlic can be bitter.
Pour the tomato liquid into the pan and cook to reduce by half, about 3 minutes.
Add the chopped tomatoes and pulp and cook until they give off their juices, about 30 minutes.
Add the bread and cook for 2 more minutes, stirring to break down the bread.
To get the best texture, pass the soup through a food mill; don’t expect it to be satin smooth but it should be even in consistency, with no lumps of bread. If you don’t have a food mill, whisk the soup until the bread is broken up and then whir it in a blender.
Season with salt and pepper, then add the basil.
Whisk in the remaining 3 cups olive oil.
Divide among warmed soup bowls. Enjoy!