I know, I know - I'm quite late with my Barefoot Bloggers entry for this month. I was so on the ball with my first one and then the holidays hit and time went out the window. But I finally got a chance to make this soup last night for a comforting New Year's Day dinner and it was a hit! I served it with Grilled Salmon BLT Wraps . I'm so glad I made it because originally I wasn't very excited about this recipe. It just sounded weird to me for some reason (bread in soup? won't that be soggy and gross? and is this tomato sauce or soup?). Despite my confusion, it is soup - and a very good one at that. The tomato and fresh basil is a combo that just can't be beat and my whole family loved the crunchy, salty topping for the soup. I did make a few changes.
1. I left out the fennel because no one in my family likes it, except my mom.
2. I only used one onion and found it to be plenty sufficient. Two would have been too much, well in my opinion.
3. I browned the diced pancetta in a small skillet on the stove first before throwing it in the oven. I hate eating chewy half-cooked pancetta so to ensure I got a crispy product I browned it up first, then tossed it with basil and bread and baked it.
I also have to say - I had to go to three grocery stores yesterday to find fresh basil! It was quite frustrating because there really is no substitute for fresh basil so I felt like I was on some kind of culinary mission. Anyway, this soup is definitely a keeper and will become a staple in my house! And as a bonus it just smells absolutely awesome while simmering away on the stove. Don't second guess this soup like I did - just make it. You will be glad you did! Enjoy!
Pappa Al Pomodoro
Ina Garten, Barefoot Contessa
1/2 cup good olive oil
2 cups chopped yellow onion (2 onions)
1 cup medium-diced carrots, unpeeled (3 carrots)
1 fennel bulb, trimmed, cored, and medium-diced (1 1/2 cups)
4 teaspoons minced garlic (4 cloves)
3 cups (1-inch) diced ciabatta cubes, crusts removed
2 (28-ounce) cans good Italian plum tomatoes
4 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
1/2 cup dry red wine
1 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
For the topping:
3 cups (1-inch) diced ciabatta cubes
2 ounces thickly sliced pancetta, chopped
24 to 30 whole fresh basil leaves
3 tablespoons good olive oil, plus more for serving
Salt and pepper
Heat the oil in a large stockpot over medium heat. Add the onions, carrots, fennel, and garlic and cook over medium-low heat for 10 minutes, until tender. Add the ciabatta cubes and cook for 5 more minutes. Place the tomatoes in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade and process just until coarsely chopped. Add the tomatoes to the pot along with the chicken stock, red wine, basil, 1 tablespoon salt, and 1 1/2 teaspoons pepper. Bring the soup to a boil, lower the heat, and allow to simmer, partially covered, for 45 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
For the topping, place the ciabatta cubes, pancetta, and basil on a sheet pan large enough to hold them in a single layer. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and toss well. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 20 to 25 minutes, until all the ingredients are crisp. The basil leaves will turn dark and crisp, which is perfectly fine. Reheat the soup, if necessary, beat with a wire whisk until the bread is broken up. Stir in the Parmesan and taste for seasoning. Serve hot sprinkled with the topping and drizzled with additional olive oil.
Salmon BLT Wraps
Stone Ground Dijon Mustard mixed with honey and lemon juice to taste
As you can see there's really not much of a recipe here, just a concept. Put as much or as little of each ingredient that you want to in your wrap. Spread your homemade honeymustard spread on your wrap, stack and enjoy. This is one of my favorite sandwiches.