Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Bread Soup (Pappa Al Pomodoro)

While looking for a way to use up stale bread, I stumbled upon an interesting recipe on It’s basically an herby tomato soup with pieces of stale bread added near the end of the cooking time so it has time to soak up some of the liquid and become nice and spongy. The results are similar to a soup made with dumpling, but because it is a previously baked yeast dough, the dumplings are much more tender than the baking soda variety. My kids and I really like it, my husband not so much so ymmv. Here’s how I make it (for a tribe of 1 adult and 4 hungry yungins).


     several cloves of garlic (4-6)

     1-2 onions, sliced

     a little olive oil for sautéing onions and garlic

     1-2 dashes red chili pepper seeds

     1 large can or 2 smaller cans tomatoes (whole, chopped,

             diced, whatever)

     stale bread, sliced, torn into bite-sized pieces (somewhere

             around 8 c.)

     12 c. water

     6 bullion cubes (beef flavor is nice, but vegetable is fine too)

     1 Tbsp. dry basil (called for 1 c. fresh leaves, torn in small

            pieces which I’m sure would be even tastier!)

Directions: (how I do ours)

    1)    Put onions and garlic with oil in a large pot, salt onions and garlic. Sauté with lid off for a little, then add lid so O&G don’t burn or stick; Before the O&G start to stick, add the tomatoes; add the basil; if using whole tomatoes, crush them with the back of a wooden spoon and stir; add water & bullion cubes; add more water/bullion if needed to make a liquidy soup; cook until the tomatoes fall apart (about 20 minutes).
    2)    Put the bread into the sauce; the bread will soak up the sauce; cook until the bread becomes a kind of mush (this is called 'pappa').

Some notes: I make this with my own stale homemade bread (2-3+ days old at least) and it works great. We tried English muffins once but weren’t too impressed with the results, they turned out rather gooey. I’m thinking it might work to add bread to any kind of soupy soup, but we’ve only ever tried it this way. I suggested it once and my kids said, “but I like the tomato soup!” so that kinda settled it for me.