Tomato and Bread Soup Credit: Felicia Perretti Tomato and Bread Soup
Credit: Felicia Perretti

 

As the season changes from the humid haze of summer to the crunchy, cascading leaves of autumn, it is time to switch up our food choices as well. Instead of jabbing at cold, crispy chucks of lettuce, sip soothing spoonfuls of soup like this Tomato and Bread Soup recipe from Ellen Brown’s “Soup of the Day.”

 

 

Tomato and Bread Soup (Pappa al Pomodoro)

Adapted from Restaurant Nora, Washington, DC

"What I love about Nora Pouillon’s version of this Tuscan dish is that she keeps its rustic character. She doesn’t peel the tomatoes nor does she strain away the seeds. It’s a straightforward and delicious recipe that’s really quick to make, too. There’s bread in the soup, so just serve a tossed salad on the side."

Serves 6 to 8

2 pounds ripe tomatoes, cored and coarsely chopped

4 cups Vegetable Stock /Chicken Stock (see below), or purchased stock

1/4 cup olive oil

3 garlic cloves, minced

5 cups firmly packed day-old country bread, diced

1/2 cup firmly packed fresh sliced basil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for garnish

Combine the tomatoes and stock in a 4-quart soup pot. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes, or until the tomatoes break down.

Heat the oil in a small skillet over medium-low heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring frequently, for 30 to 45 seconds, or until the garlic begins to brown.

Stir the garlic and bread cubes into the soup and cook over medium-low heat, uncovered and stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes, or until the bread falls apart.

Stir in the basil and season the soup to taste with salt and pepper. Serve immediately, passing the Parmesan separately at the table.

Note: The soup can be prepared up to 2 days in advance and refrigerated, tightly covered. Reheat it over low heat, stirring occasionally. Add stock or water if the soup needs thinning after reheating.

Variations:

Add 1 tablespoon grated orange zest along with the garlic.

Substitute crushed red pepper flakes for the black pepper.

Don’t be stingy with the salt in this dish. There’s a large amount of very bland bread serving as the thickening agent and unless you salt the soup sufficiently the wonderful ripe tomato flavor won’t sing in your mouth.

Chicken Stock

This is the most important stock, because it’s used for pork and vegetable soups (assuming you’re not a strict vegetarian) as well as with poultry. The good thing about this stock is that you actually get more flavor from the inexpensive parts of the bird, like the leg quarters and backs.

Makes 4 quarts

5 pounds chicken bones, skin, and trimmings (including giblets)

4 celery ribs, cut into thick slices

2 onions, trimmed and quartered

2 carrots, trimmed, scrubbed, and cut into thick slices

2 tablespoons whole black peppercorns

6 garlic cloves, peeled

4 sprigs fresh parsley

3 sprigs fresh thyme

2 bay leaves

Place 6 quarts of water and the chicken in a large stockpot, and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low, and skim off any foam that rises during the first 10 to 15 minutes of simmering. Simmer the stock, uncovered, for 1 hour, and then add the celery, onions, carrots, peppercorns, garlic, parsley, thyme, and bay leaves. Simmer for 21/2 hours.

Strain the stock through a fine-mesh sieve, pushing with the back of a spoon to extract as much liquid as possible. Discard the solids, spoon the stock into smaller containers, and refrigerate when the stock reaches room temperature. Remove and discard the fat layer from the surface of the stock once chilled.

Note: The stock can be refrigerated and used within 3 days, or it can be frozen for up to 6 months.

Vegetable Stock

You may think it unnecessary to use vegetable stock if making a vegetarian dish that includes the same vegetables, but that’s not the case. Using stock creates a richly flavored soup that can’t be replicated by increasing the quantity of vegetables cooked in the soup.

Makes 2 quarts

2 carrots, scrubbed, trimmed, and thinly sliced

2 celery ribs, sliced

2 leeks, white and pale green parts only, thinly sliced and rinsed well

1 small onion, thinly sliced

1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns

4 sprigs fresh parsley

3 sprigs fresh thyme

2 sprigs fresh rosemary

2 garlic cloves, peeled

1 bay leaf

Pour 3 quarts of water into a stockpot, and add the carrots, celery, leeks, onion, peppercorns, parsley, thyme, garlic, and bay leaf. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to low and simmer the stock, uncovered, for 1 hour.

Strain the stock through a fine-mesh sieve, pushing with the back of a spoon to extract as much liquid as possible. Discard the solids, and spoon the stock into smaller containers. Refrigerate once the stock reaches room temperature.

Note: The stock can be refrigerated and used within 3 days, or it can be frozen for up to 6 months.

"Soup of the Day," by Ellen Brown Credit: Felicia Perretti "Soup of the Day," by Ellen Brown
Credit: Felicia Perretti