Sunday, January 8, 2012

Step-By-Step Pappa al Pomidoro

Tonight's dinner was my favorite soup. The original recipe is from Ina Garten, one of my favorite Food Network chefs, but I made several changes, so I'll write out my version here. Tonight, I included my purple cauliflower from the farmers' market today. I also think this recipe is pretty easy, but it looks a little intimidating for newer cooks, so I'm providing step-by-step instructions (with photos!) to show that anyone can do it!

Please note: I used a lot more vegetables than what the original recipe calls for to boost the health factor. Increasing or decreasing the amounts shown here will not significantly affect the outcome of your soup!

Pappa al Pomidoro
Serves 6 (perfect for leftovers!)

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 yellow onions
  • Stalks of 1 whole celery head, rinsed
  • 6-7 small (or 4-5 large) carrots, rinsed, unpeeled
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 head cauliflower (optional)
  • 3 cups sourdough, French, or ciabatta bread (1/2 baguette or 1/2 round loaf)
  • 2 28-ounce cans Italian plum tomatoes
  • 4 cups chicken broth (vegetable broth works for vegetarians!)
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 1 handful fresh (or 2 teaspoons dried) basil
  • Salt and pepper to taste (I use about a teaspoon of each)
For topping:
  • 3 cups bread (the other half of your baguette or loaf)
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Step 1: First, set up your food processor. (You can chop everything my hand if you're without a food processor, but that machine makes everything go so much faster.) Once the food processor is ready, heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large stockpot or Dutch oven.

Step 2: Roughly chop the onions into quarters and throw them in the food processor. Add the onions to the heated oil and stir.

Step 3: Repeat the rough chop-food processor-add to the pot-stir with the celery and carrots.

Step 4: Add the garlic to the carrot-onion-celery mixture. Stir.
Step 5: Roughly chop the cauliflower and run it through the food processor. Add the cauliflower to the pot and stir.
Let the veggies cook for 5 minutes, stirring once or twice.

Step 6: Meanwhile, cut the bread into 1-inch cubes.

Add the bread to the pot of veggies and stir.

Cook the vegetable-bread mixture for another 5 minutes.
Step 7: Add the broth. Stir.
Step 8: Open the can of plum tomatoes. Pour the excess juice into the pot;
put the whole tomatoes into the food processor.

Process the whole tomatoes (use "Pulse") to your desired texture.  I like them a little coarse.

Step 9: Add the processed tomatoes to the pot. Stir. 

Cooking with an audience gives me the best results.

Step 10: Add the basil, salt, and pepper. Taste-test your soup to check the seasoning.

Open your wine of choice (I chose a Pinot Noir tonight).

Step 11: Add the wine. Stir.

Step 12: Reduce heat to low. Simmer, partially covered, for at least 45 minutes. Stir every 10 minutes at most
During this time, you could do some laundry.
Again, it helps to have a little moral support.

Step 13: To make the topping, preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Cut up the other half of your bread into 1-inch cubes. 

Step 14: Toss the bread cubes, olive oil, salt, pepper, and basil on a cookie sheet.
Step 15: Bake the bread cubes for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally (every 8-10 minutes). Note: French bread requires less time; ciabatta and sourdough take a bit longer. Your croutons are ready when they are golden brown.

Step 16: Serve, topped with croutons and Parmesan cheese, and enjoy!
I really think you'll love this recipe. It's perfect for a cold night and excellent for leftovers! Since Terry's out of town, I now have enough leftovers to eat this soup every day for the rest of the week. It heats well in a microwave or a saucepot and goes perfectly with red wine. Bon appetit! (If you try it out, be sure to leave a comment to let me know what you think!)


  1. Love it! One question: how do you get your audience to sit nicely on a chair? My audience (i.e. my two kitties) are all over the counter, and I'm constantly throwing them around to try to get them away from the food!

  2. Ha! He's normally very good while I cook, but there have been a few times when I've caught him sneaking up on the counter where he knows he's NOT supposed to be! :-)