Comforting Tuscan Tomato Bread Soup (Pappa al Pomodoro)
A cozy and hearty Tuscan tomato bread soup recipe. Pappa al Pomodoro is made with just a handful o,f ingredients and takes no time to make at all!
Pappa al Pomodoro!
That’s so much fun to say. I haven’t been able to get this ridiculously easy, close-to-zero prep work soup off my mind. The first time I made Tuscan tomato bread soup, I happened to share it on Instastories, and immediately, I started getting requests for the recipe.
I’ll be honest; I had no idea what Pappa al Pomodoro was before we took a trip to Italy a couple of summers ago. We were at the coolest Tavern-y restaurant that looked like it was straight out of Harry Potter (complete with a Boars head on the wall.) It happened to be unseasonably cold and rainy that day in Florence, and we decided to sneak inside this place for an early dinner before heading back to our Airbnb. The soup was the perfect starter on that abnormally chilly summers eve.
I’ll never forget that first bite of Pappa al Pomodoro. Bright and smooth tomatoes in a thick and hearty sauce layered with garlic and basil and tender bits of bread running through the soup. It may not sound like much, but Tuscan tomato bread soup is the kind of magic you have to feel for yourself. Don’t take my word for it.
I’ve made my fair share of tomato recipes in the past, including one of the most popular roasted tomato basil soup, homemade arrabbiata sauce, 5-ingredient tomato sauce, marinated mozzarella tomato salad, tomato basil bruschetta, and tomato baked chicken. Still, nothing comes close to the flavor of my Tuscan tomato bread soup. Especially considering that this soup requires just a small handful of ingredients.
What is Tuscan tomato bread soup (Pappa al Pomodoro?)
Pappa al Pomodoro is a thick and hearty soup prepared with tomatoes (passata in our case) with basil, olive oil, garlic, and stale country bread, amongst other ingredients.
What ingredients do you need to make tomato bread soup?
- Olive oil
- Red pepper flakes
- Stale Italian bread (or white bread)
- Basil leaves
What is passata and where can I find it?
Passata is a thick, cooked, or uncooked tomato puree that doesn’t contain any seeds or skin. It is sometimes marked ‘strained tomatoes’ on containers imported from Europe. Passata is generally unflavored unless it is marked on the container.
I’ve usually found passata in the tomato aisle, right next to the canned tomatoes. Passata is typically sold in boxed cartons or glass jars, rather than in cans. Keep in mind that passata usually only contains tomatoes, whereas tomato sauces often contain herbs as well as vegetables sometimes.
What if I don’t have stale bread, can I still make this tomato bread soup?
The first time I made Tuscan tomato bread soup, I didn’t have time to wait until the bread was stale. So instead, I cut the bread in cubes and places it on a baking tray and allowed it to toast and dry out for 16-20 minutes. The recipe calls for 8-10 minutes of baking even if you use stale bread, so if you use fresh bread, be sure to toast it in the oven for about double the amount of time.
How to make tomato bread soup:
- Start by toasting the bread under a hot oven. You want to keep the bread cubes pretty small so that they toast up quickly. Keep an eye on them as you don’t want them to burn!
- Add the garlic and red pepper flakes to a heavy-bottom saucepan or dutch oven along with the olive oil. Then, start the burner on the lowest heat setting and allow for the garlic and red pepper flavors to infuse into the olive oil. Take your time here; you don’t want to burn the garlic!
- Once the smell of garlic hits the air and the smashed cloves start to change colors, you can add int he passata along with half of the basil leaves. Here’s a tip: I like to tear the basil leaves with my hands to release all that flavor. Add the sugar, a splash of water, and allow the soup to simmer for 10 minutes.
- Then, add in the cubed bread along with another splash of water and allow for the soup to continue simmering for another 10-15 minutes or until the bread breaks down and the soup reaches your desired consistency. Generally, Pappa al Pomodoro is served quite thick, and not liquidy. I like it somewhere in the middle of the two. Add salt, and the remaining basil and stir to combine. Serve while it’s still warm, or you can cool it down and serve at room temperature as well!
How long does tomato bread soup last in the refrigerator?
I’ve kept it for four days in the refrigerator without issues! I find that the flavor of the soup is even better on day 2 and 3 because everything has a chance to mingle and marinate. The soup does thicken significantly and firms up as it sits, so leftovers usually require a small splash of water when reheating.
I hope you’ll give this simple yet genuinely delicious tomato bread soup a try! Every bite takes me back to that little tavern in Florence, and it’s seriously the best feeling. ❤
- ⅓ cup olive oil
- 4 cloves garlic, smashed
- Pinch of red pepper flakes, optional
- 4 ½ cups (36 ounces) of passata
- ~ 3 cups stale country-style bread (crust removed and cut into small cubes)
- 2-3 teaspoons sugar, optional
- 10-12 fresh basil leaves
- INFUSE: Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350ºF. Add the garlic cloves red pepper flakes to a 4-quart soup pot and pour the olive oil on top. Heat the garlic over the lowest heat setting until it starts to slowly sizzle and the aroma hits the whole kitchen, this could take up to 10 minutes. Then, pour in the passata along with half of the basil leaves (torn with hands,) sugar, ½ cup of water, and allow for the mixture to simmer for 10 minutes.
- TOAST: Place the cubed bread on a baking sheet and place the baking sheet in the oven for 8-10 minutes to dry the bread out further while the soup simmers.
- FINISH: Then, add the bread to the soup, along with 1 cup of water and allow for the soup to simmer for another 13-15 minutes or until the bread breaks down. Season with ½ teaspoon of salt and adjust with additional salt as needed. It just depends on how salty your bread was to begin with. Add the remaining torn basil leaves to the soup. Allow the basil to wilt just a bit. Fill bowls and serve warm or you can cool it down and serve at room temperature as well. Top with parmesan, if desired.