Friday, September 9, 2011

Pappa al Pomodoro

There are certain foods that I get major, major cravings for.

Bacon cheeseburgers
Chocolate cake
Ice cream
White Chocolate Wonderful and banana sandwiches
Chicken or duck fried rice (cravings especially frequent in Buffalo, where there is no really good Chinese food)
Shrimp Pad Thai
Fettucine Alfredo
Anything with pesto

The last one is capitalized because I could eat thick, chunky, hearty soup for lunch and dinner pretty much every day of the week.
Virtually every time I went to Panera over the summer, I got their Garden Vegetable soup.  Most of those times, it was over 90 degrees outside and humid to boot.
Did I care?
Nope.  I wanted soup.

One of the first things I wanted to make when I got back to Buffalo was soup.  Maybe it's because I associate Buffalo with bone-chilling winters that only steaming hot bowls of goodness can cure, or maybe it's because I took a look at the cans of crushed tomatoes I had just bought and immediately thought of grilled cheese and tomato soup.

Add grilled cheese to my list of major cravings.

I found the base recipe for this tomato-and-bread soup on Annie's Eats - big shock, since it's one of my all-time favorite blogs - and decided to change up the veggies a bit to use what I had on hand.  It appealed to me both because it could be a total pantry meal and because it's not a pureed soup - the more chunks the better, in my book.
The result?  A thick, hearty, chunky tomato soup that put a gigantic smile on every person's lips through which it passed.  Served with a salad, it became a complete meal - and one of my new favorites!

Another plus: this makes a HUGE batch of soup - enough for me to live on for a week with extras for my roommate and fianc√©.  When company season kicks up, I need to live off of leftovers for days at a time.  Large quantity of tasty leftovers = major win.

Long story short: this recipe comes highly recommended from me.  If you're as big of a soup person as I am, make this and you'll be doing your happy dance in no time.

[By the way, if you need a Dutch oven in which to make this tasty soup - which I highly recommend using - mosey on over to She's Becoming Doughmesstic's Le Creuset giveaway!  She's a great blogger and you might get awesome cookware out of it!]

Pappa al Pomodoro (Tomato and Bread Soup)
Source: adapted from Annie's Eats, originally from Barefoot Contessa: Back to Basics by Ina Garten

1/4 cup olive oil
2 cups chopped yellow onion
1 large zucchini, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 tsp dried basil
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups cubed stale country bread, crusts removed
2-28oz cans crushed Italian tomatoes
4 cups chicken or vegetable stock (I used vegetable)
1/2 cup dry red wine
1 tbsp Kosher salt
1-1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
2 large handfuls fresh baby spinach leaves
Croutons, for serving
Shredded Parmesan cheese, for serving

Heat the oil in a large stockpot over medium heat.  Add the onions, zucchini, dried basil, and garlic.  Cook for 10 minutes, until tender.  Add the bread cubes and cook for 5 more minutes. Add the tomatoes to the pot along with the chicken or vegetable stock, red wine, salt and pepper.  Bring the soup to a boil, lower the heat, and allow to simmer, partially covered, for 45 minutes.  Beat the soup with a wire whisk to break up the bread pieces.  Stir in the spinach leaves and allow to wilt.  Serve topped with croutons (I made my own out of the leftover bread) and shredded Parmesan cheese.  Enjoy!

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