Traditionally, this Tuscan soup has the texture of lumpy porridge, but I much prefer the crusts to have a crunchy edge.
Pappa al pomodoro is usually made in summer when tomatoes are ripe and plentiful, but this version, a ‘best-ever’, using both canned and roasted vine tomatoes, is scented and richly flavoured, chunky and textural, and is good at any time of year. Especially now when there is a nip in the air.
500g (1 pound 1 ounce) small vine tomatoes
Flaky sea salt, freshly ground black pepper and caster sugar (superfine granulated sugar) for tomatoes
Extra virgin olive oil
2 x 400g (15 ounce) cans crushed Italian tomatoes
1 cup basil leaves
2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
2 cups water
200g (7 ounces) ciabatta crusts (see below)
Top-notch extra virgin olive oil, or lemon-infused extra virgin olive oil for drizzling
1 Fast roast tomatoes with flaky sea salt, black pepper and caster sugar (superfine granulated sugar), then cool.
2 Tip canned tomatoes into a bowl and pick over to remove any rogue pieces of skin, cores or greenish bits. Chop half the basil leaves. Put 3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil into a medium-sized saucepan and add garlic and chopped basil. Set pan over low heat and let basil and garlic infuse the oil for 10–12 minutes, then increase heat a little and cook until garlic is a pale nut-brown. Discard garlic. Pour in canned tomatoes and water (rinse cans with some of the water to get any last juices). Bring to a gentle boil, then lower heat and cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
3 Meanwhile, scoop tomato flesh from skins of roasted tomatoes (discarding tomato skins) and add to soup with 1½ tsp of salt. Reheat soup until hot (don’t let it boil).
4 Put some baked ciabatta crusts in the bottom of each soup bowl and spoon soup on top. Drizzle with a little exquisite olive oil and strew with remaining basil leaves. Serve immediately.
Recipe for Baked ciabatta crusts here
Recipe for Fast roast tomatoes here