Pappa al Pomodoro a la Ina Garten
Today is all about the food. Lunch was spectacular - leftovers from yesterday's spaghetti alla carbonara. It reheated perfectly in the microwave, and it felt like a moment of bliss in the middle of my day.
Dinner tonight was one of my all-time favorites. It's also a fantastic comfort food, so when Terry e-mailed me from work to say he wasn't feeling too well, I knew this soup would be perfect. THe recipe comes from Ina Garten, none other than the Barefoot Contessa. I absolutely love her homemade attitude, though I admit that many of her meals lack the health factor. Still, she incorporates tons of fresh fruits and vegetables into her recipes, and this soup is no exception. Check out her recipe here.
Please note, I substitute celery for the fennel, simply because I usually have celery on hand. Also, I use sourdough instead of ciabatta, because I use sourdough anytime I can. I leave the crusts on the bread, because a) I don't want to be wasteful, and b) I am way too lazy to cut the crusts off. Leaving the crusts on makes the bread really gooey, so it doesn't dissolve all the way, but that adds to the texture of the soup! Lastly, for the topping, I make it easier by simply using the bread cubes, salt, pepper, and olive oil - I skip the pancetta and basil.
I actually doubled this recipe tonight, because tomorrow I get to bring dinner to Jenn, who is working on her qualifying exams for her Ph.D. in Early Childhood Education. I'll let you know what she and her boyfriend, Justin, think of the soup. But here's what I think: It's the perfect meal for a cold night (no, it's not cold here yet, but if it was...). It has so much going on - the crunch of the toasted bread cubes, the savory texture of the tomatoes, the chewy sweetness of the soaked bread. Tomatoes and bread is already one of my favorite combinations (check out my bruschetta recipe!), but when you make the tomatoes creamy and then add salty bread...come on! That's just heaven!
We enjoyed our meal with a Syrah from Bridlewood, a lovely winery in Los Olivos, California. We love the Syrahs in particular, but they have spectacular picnicking spots and a wonderful staff. If you're ever in the area, check them out!
And now, off to bed early to catch up on sleep, since we're both under the weather. Another long day of work for me tomorrow!