Sunday, July 02, 2006

Pappa al Pomodoro – Tuscan Tomato Soup

Pappa al Pomodoro or Tuscan tomato soup is deeply routed in traditional Italian cuisine. This soup represents the traditional flavors of Tuscany. The word pappa derives from the Latin word meaning food that does not require mastication. The food needed to be flavorful, nutritious and easily digestible. Before the homogenized baby foods and canned soup people actually prepared meats, fruits and vegetables in a way that babies and older individuals without teeth could eat them. Thus, soup is born. If you happen to hear an Italian speaking with their toddlers, the phrase “vuoi la pappa?” is an indication that it is time to eat.


We all have memories of our parents preparing hot vegetable soup, in my case from a can, when we were sick. Today pediatricians stress the importance of fruits and vegetables in our children’s diet thus the entire isle in the supermarket dedicated solo to homogenized foods and how many think with pleasure of a bowl of tomato soup and a grilled cheese sandwich on a cold wintry day.

Soups made from fresh ingredients are significantly better for us than the industrial version. Homemade soups do not contain preservatives, the salt content is significantly lower, and they maintain their nutritional value better than the industrial versions. Additionally, homemade soup is both quick and inexpensive. Whether or not you try this at home if you have the opportunity to visit Tuscany you must try Pappa al Pomodoro for lunch.

Ingredients:

1 lb. (450 gr.) stale Tuscan loaf bread cut into 1 inch cubes
1 lb. (450 gr.) peeled tomatoes (fresh are better but canned will do fine) and diced
1 clove of garlic, smashed and minced
1 quart vegetable broth
4 leaves of Fresh Basil
½ cup Olive Oil
salt
pepper

Vegetable broth is made boiling 1 stalk of celery, 1 red onion, and and 1 carrot in 1 ¼ quarts of water for ½ hour. Once completed remove the cooked vegetables. If you prefer the broth can be made from a broth bullion cube or by sautéing chopped onion, carrot and celery with the garlic and adding water instead of the broth. Please use bottled or filtered water. Tap water has a chlorine taste that will be present in the soup.

Preparation:

Bring the vegetable broth to a boil, turn the heat to low and let simmer.
In a heavy medium sized pot, sauté the garlic in 2 tablespoons of Olive Oil over medium heat. Once the garlic starts to color, add the tomatoes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cook for 15 minutes.

Add the hot vegetable broth and the stale bread. Cook for an additional 15 minutes and turn off the heat. Stir in the remaining Olive Oil and add the Basil leaves. Allow to cool for 15 minutes.

This soup should be served lukewarm, that is not hot and not cold. An additional Basil leaf can be added for decoration when serving in single bowls.

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