An ingenious way to make a cheap, comforting and filling meal, pappa al pomodoro is probably one of the most ancient dishes that continues to appear on every single Florentine trattoria menu.
The beauty of a dish like pappa al pomodoro is that it is basically a different dish in each house or trattoria, and is made with a slightly different list of ingredients and a different technique.
This humble dish of medieval origins would have once been a simple porridge of sorts, made with bread, water and garlic, a dish known as pancotto, ‘cooked bread’, which was described by the Florentine painter-chef, Guido Peyron, as ‘the most elemental soup in the world’.
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
- a pinch salt
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
- 30ml white wine, (or water)
- 350g tomato passata, (puréed tomatoes)
- 175ml vegetable stock or water
- 1/2 small handful basil leaves, torn
- 175g stale bread, cut into slices
Cook the onion, garlic and salt in the olive oil in a large saucepan over a low heat until soft and translucent, or for about 10 minutes. Add the wine and continue cooking until the liquid has nearly evaporated. Add the tomato passata and vegetable stock and cook over a medium heat, uncovered, for 20 minutes. Season with pepper and, if needed, more salt (especially if using unsalted Tuscan bread in this recipe).
Just before taking the soup off the heat, add the basil and the bread. Remove from the heat and let it sit, covered, for one hour. After this time, stir the soup to break up the bread and adjust the consistency, if necessary, by adding more vegetable stock or water – it should be thick like porridge.
Serve at room temperature in summer or hot in the cooler months, always with a drizzle of olive oil and freshly ground black pepper.
Recipe taken from Florentine by Emiko Davies
Through her recipes, Emiko Davies takes us on a stroll through the streets of Florence, past bakeries and pastry shops bustling with espresso sippers, colourful markets, busy trattorias, butchers, hole-in-the-wall wine bars and late-night gelaterias. She stays true to the most classic recipes and traditions of the Renaissance city – which inspired her to start her eponymous blog five years ago while living in Florence – revealing an unpretentious and unchanging cuisine that tells the unique story of its city, dish by dish.
You can purchase Florentine at cooked.com.
Published by Hardie Grant Books.
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