I hate when recipes begin with “you guys,” but I feel like saying it is something every food blogger has to say at least a half a dozen times throughout their blogging career. Now that I have gotten it out of my system, I can get into today’s recipe that is the ultimate in cozy Sunday Supper dinners.
For as long as I can recall, I have had a weakness for tomato soup. It typically doesn’t matter if it's homemade or from a can, I just can’t help myself. It’s like the chocolate of the soup world for me, especially if there happens to be a grilled cheese nearby…
Growing up, tomato soup consisted of opening a can of soup and popping it into the microwave. It was such a comfort for me, especially after the hour commute home from swim practice in the evening. Since I wouldn’t get home until after 8, soup from a can was the easiest option for everyone. It wasn’t until very recently that I actually began developing my own tomato soup recipe.
Last summer on a rare sick-in-bed day, I got sucked into watching a Barefoot Contessa marathon on the Food Network app. While I don’t quite recall what the theme of the episode was, or all of the lovely things she cooked, I was mesmerized by her take on tomato soup. It seemed obscured to me that she used *gasp* canned tomatoes to make her soup. But what was even more shocking (and mind blowing), was her last minute addition to the soup just prior to serving: little grilled cheese croutons!
Since I am sensitive to saturated fat (hellllllo crippling headaches), my take on tomato soup doesn’t have grilled cheese croutons, but plain croutons instead. My husband claimed that since I intentionally made croutons to go in my tomato soup my version isn’t technically a tomato soup, but a bread and tomato soup instead. So it’s like a panzanella soup. Whatever you want to call it, it’s delicious.
Unlike the Barefoot Contessa, this bread and tomato soup used fresh tomatoes. If you can’t find any ripe tomatoes locally, canned San Moranzo tomatoes will also work — I use approximately 3 pounds of fresh tomatoes to make this soup, so just make sure you get enough canned tomatoes, otherwise your soup is going to be mostly broth, croutons and garlic.
Winter Bread and Tomato Soup
Also known as pappa al pomodoro in Italian, this soup combines leftover bread cubes, fresh tomatoes, assorted vegetables, and an irresistible drizzle of basil oil.
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 45 minutes
Total time: 55 minutes
- 1 cup packed basil leaves, stems removed
- 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 loaf white french-style bread, crusts removed, cut into cubes
- salt and pepper
- 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
- 2 celery ribs, diced
- 2 yellow onions, minced (about 2 cups)
- 2 carrots, peeled and minced
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 pounds plum tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and coarsely chopped
- 1 teaspoon superfine sugar (regular granulated sugar is also fine)
- 6 cups chicken or vegetable broth
- Have a bowl of ice water set aside. To make the basil oil, bring a small saucepan of water to a boil. Pull aside 10 of the larger basil leaves. Blanch the remaining leaves in the boiling water for 5-10 seconds. Drain, then transfer into the bowl of ice water. Draina second time, and squeeze the leaves to remove as much water as possible. Transfer to a food processor, add the olive oil, and pulse until the mixture is a uniform deep green. Strain the basil oil through a fine-mesh sieve lined with cheesecloth. Set aside.
- Preheat the oven to 350°.
- Arrange the bread cubes in a single layer on a baking sheet, season generously with salt and pepper, and drizzle with olive oil. Bake until lightly toasted and golden brown, about 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, in a large, heavy pot or dutch oven, warm 4 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add the celery, onions, carrots, and garlic and sauté until the vegetables are softened but not yet browned, about 10 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste and cook for 5 minutes, using a wooden spoon to loosen up any brown bits from the bottom of pot. Add the tomatoes and sugar and season with salt and pepper. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes are softened, about 10 minutes.
- Add the toasted bread cubes and 6 cups broth to the pot. Stir to combine with the vegetables, bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, and cook, uncovered and stirring often, until the bread has softened, about 15 minutes.
- Serve the soup, garnished with fresh basil and drizzled with the basil oil.