You have heard about this humble dish, but probably don’t know its origins.
Flavors and Knowledge

May 21


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Tonight I am teaching a cooking class on the foods of Tuscany. Among all the various dishes I can choose pertinent to this romanticized region, one, in particular, stands out as the summer approaches. To discover the purest foods in Tuscany and everywhere else in Italy, always reach out to farmers and follow their dining rituals. You’ll never go wrong!

The season will undoubtedly bring fresh tomatoes and richness of ingredients that make cooking creative and straightforward execution. If you had Campbell’s tomato soup in the past, I would like you to meet its grandfather. Pappa al Pomodoro. The two, however, differ in many ways and, of course, in texture and taste. Let’s discover!

Pappa al Pomodoro is what most people would call the definitive taste of Italy; tomatoes, garlic, basil, and plenty of extra virgin olive oil. The very thick soup is full of Tuscan bread (which traditionally doesn’t contain salt and therefore goes stale quicker than regular bread). Served warm or chilled, it offers comfort or pleasant refreshment. Good quality olive oil is critical here, as are the tomatoes – this recipe calls for canned, but it’s a beautiful way to use up a glut of ripe tomatoes. {1}.

Once in Tuscany and in Siena dine at Osteria del Carroccio Casato di Sotto 32, Siena, about 200 feet from Piazza del Campo. Order the Pappa, and let me know how you like it!

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Pappa al Pomodoro from Siena in Tuscany


Two tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling

One large white-skin onion, minced

Five medium-size (Gilroy) garlic cloves, minced

Fresh basil to your preference, but no more than six leaves

Four thick slices of stale bread, crusts removed, torn into chunks

One- 26 ounces of canned San Marzano tomatoes or another very high-quality variety

One tablespoon of sugar, purely optional

8 ounces of fresh vegetable stock, home-made or store-bought low sodium

Salt and white pepper to taste


Heat the oil in a large saucepan and cook the onion and garlic on low heat for 15 minutes or until very soft but without color.

Strain the canned tomatoes over a bowl, reserving the juice. Add the tomatoes to the pan and cook until thick and most of the liquid has evaporated. This step will help you get a deeper flavor from your tinned tomatoes.

Add in the reserved tomato juice, four sprigs of basil, sugar, vegetable stock, and bread, and cook for ten more minutes, stirring regularly to help break down the bread.

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