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Pappa Al Pomodoro / Classic Italian Tomato Soup

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“This is a classic Italian tomato soup that uses ciabatta bread to thicken it. Unlike other recipes posted here, this soup is made with red wine & fennel, then at serving it is topped with pancetta and whole crispy basil leaves. The flavor is amazing! The recipe comes from the chef of a cooking class I had the pleasure to take. I am not sure what cookbook this may have come from. 4/12 Correction: recipe of Ina Garten (thanks Jekase!)”
1hr 45mins

Ingredients Nutrition


  1. Heat the oil in a large stock pot over medium heat. Add the onions, carrots, fennel, and garlic. Cook over medium-low heat for 10 minutes, until tender.
  2. Add the ciabatta cubes and cook for 5 more minutes.
  3. Place the tomatoes in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade and process until coarsely chopped. Add the tomatoes to the pot along with the chicken stock, red wine, basil, 1 T salt, and 1 1/2 t pepper.
  4. Bring the soup to a boil, lower the heat and allow to simmer, partially covered for 45 minutes.
  5. MEANWHILE: Preheat oven to 375°F.
  7. In a large bowl, put the reserved ciabatta bread cubes, pancetta and whole basil leaves in the bowl and drizzle with olive oil. Toss to coat.
  8. On a lined sheet pan large enough for all ingredients, place the ingredients in a single layer, Be sure the basil leaves are flat. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  9. Bake until the cubes are toasted, pancetta crispy and basil leaves turn dark & crisp. This may take 15-20 minutes.
  10. Check on your soup. If the soup is too lumpy for you you can smash with a wooden spoon, potato masher or use a submersion blender to break up the bread cubes. Alternately you can puree in batches in a food processor or blender. Blend to desired consistency. I prefer a more rustic presentation.
  11. *Take care to only fill the blender or food processor 1/3 when you puree HOT soup.
  12. Turn up the heat to rewarm if necessary. At this point check for seasoning. Add more salt and pepper as needed.
  13. Stir in parmesan cheese, top with basil leaf, pancetta and bread cubes.
  14. Freezes well.

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