Pappa al pomodoro is a Tuscan tomato soup, thickened with breadcrumbs, which was served up to us at a magical wedding breakfast in Fiesole’s Villa Di Miaino as a ‘baby food flan’ or sformatino and that’s how I’ve remembered it, rather than as a soup. The original was served with a topping of crisply battered fried leek, but I’ve changed that with something altogether simpler. Do feel free to batter some thin strips of leek and give ‘em a quick fry if you prefer!
The Tuscan tomato is a mighty thing to try and replace with an airfreighted thingy from Spinneys, so either splurge at the Organic Shop or splash out on a tin of organic tomatoes. It really does make a huge difference.
- 6 large ripe organic tomatoes
- ½ leek, chopped
- 1 red onion, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, chopped
- 3 tbsp good olive oil
- 2 large slices of stale brown bread
- 100ml white wine
- 1 tsp pepper
- 2 tsp mixed dried herbs
- Fresh parmesan, grated or shaved
Skin the tomatoes (score a criss-cross on the green bit left after you remove the stalk and pour boiling water over the tomatoes in a bowl. Leave them for 30 seconds or so, until the flesh starts to split, then peel the skins off) and then discard the seeds before chopping them.
In a smallish pan, heat 2 tbsp of olive oil and add the onions and leek to cook and soften. Add the garlic and then the tomatoes then turn the heat to low to cook for 25-30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Meanwhile, whizz the stale bread (if you haven’t got any stale, lightly toast some good stuff). Put half of the stale bread in with the tomatoes and mix the other half with the dried herbs and a little salt. Stir the un-herbed bread into the tomatoes and let it mix in and cook for a short while, then whizz it up using a hand whizzer, adding the white wine to give a thick but not stodgy mixture – add an extra splash of oil as well. You’re aiming at a consistency that will keep its shape when spooned out.
Stir the other tablespoon of oil into the breadcrumb and herb mixture and then, using a frying pan, fry it up to brown and crisp. Serve the tomato mixture warmed up with the crispy breadcrumbs and parmesan scattered over the top at the last possible second.