Traditional Tuscan Pappa al Pomodoro - Tomato and Bread Soup
1 small carrot, minced
1 small onion, minced
1 small celery stalk, minced
1-2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (the good stuff!), plus extra for plating
7-8 ripe organic tomatoes, peeled & diced
1 handful of fresh basil leaves, finely chopped, with some whole leaves reserved for garnishing
vegetable stock (I prefer porcini mushroom stock, if available)
1 loaf of GOOD bakery bread, stale, cubed (1" cubes), with the crust cut off (cut off crust before letting your bread get stale...trust me!)
2/3 cup full bodied vegan red wine
salt and pepper to taste
Mince the carrot, onion, and celery as small as you possibly can. When they’re all chopped up, you should have about equal proportions of each. Throw them in a pot with 2-3 Tablespoons of Extra Virgin OO on medium high heat. Sautee, making sure they don’t burn, until they begin to lose their color (5-10 minutes).
Toss in the garlic and stir for a minute or two (careful not to let it burn). With the heat still high, add the diced tomatoes and stir. Once they begin getting soft and losing their shape, you can turn the heat down to a simmer. Let the tomatoes simmer for about 5-7 minutes.
Add the red wine (more is better, I think) and cover. [At this point, you can either let it simmer for at least 30 minutes, or, if you don’t have the time, simmer until the alcohol has cooked off then add about 2 -3 Tablespoons of old coffee (the stuff that’s been sitting in your pot since the morning will work just fine).
This gives the sauce the same flavor as if it’s been sitting on the stove all day!] Once you’ve let the sauce simmer for a while (the longer the better), you can add your vegetable stock. Add just enough so the sauce becomes sort of soupy. Stir everything up really well and salt and pepper to taste. Add the stale bread cubes a few at a time and stir them around until they absorb the liquid and begin to fall apart. Add enough bread cubes to absorb the liquid. Your pappa al pomodoro should be the consistency of thick oatmeal- chunky and delectable! When you’ve gotten the texture right, take it off the heat and let it cool. This dish is traditionally served slightly warm, never hot. When you serve it, drizzle a little Extra Virgin OO on top and garnish with some fresh basil leaves. NUM!!!!
Source of Recipe: I learned this recipe while living in Florence. It's the real deal! As this recipe was taught to me by my old Italian professor, she never used any semblance of measuring device when cooking. Therefore, the above quantities are my guesstimations; you may need to adjust some of the ingredients to your taste!