One of the best things about eating tinned tomato soup when I was a child was ripping up the slice of soft doughy white bread that inevitably came with it and adding the pieces en-mass to the bowl. The resultant stodgy, doughy, tomatoey goo was, to my mind, heavenly. Imagine how happy I was to leaf through my River Cafe cookbook to find that those lovely Italians, masters of the tomato/carb combo, had invented a grown-up version of my childhood delight.
Pappa Al Pomodoro.
(Thank you to the whole of Florence, I truly am grateful for this heavenly recipe. Grazie!)
With an overflowing bread-bin and a greenhouse full of tomatoes I decided that now was the time to attempt the Italian soup – pappa al pomodoro and it really was surprisingly easy. I took some garlic, an onion and slowly fried them off. After that I added two tins of chopped tomatoes and about 200g of previously roasted ripe cherry tomatoes from my greenhouse and let that bubble away merrily whilst I ripped up 500g of the stalest bread from my bread-bin (I’m ashamed to say there was still more but a girl’s got to know her limits) I added this to the tomato sauce along with a big handful of ripped up basil. Then I let it cook for another 10 minutes. After that I gave it 10 minutes to stand whilst I laid the table and gave various ultimatums about turning off Mario-kart and getting to the flipping table.
All of the recipes I had read had warned of the dire consequences of using inferior quality stale bread. Unfortunately some of the bread that I used, ok, most of the bread that I used, was not expensive Italian crusts, but a very stale supermarket bloomer so the soup had took on the consistency of slightly runny porridge. But I was not deterred. Perhaps the best advice my mother ever gave to me was ‘If the recipe has a picture of what it should look like never show it to your guests’. So I dolloped the red gloop on to five bowls and provided spoons and forks for eating and a choice of Parmesan or Gouda to grate on top. And guess what? Everybody loved it. All had seconds, two had thirds. We all agreed Gouda was the best to grate on as it added a creaminess to the dish thus pushing this Italian delight yet closer in flavour to my happy childhood memory!
We’ll have that again I think (and I’ll take a photo of what it’s not supposed to look like!).