Using Dried Vs Stale Bread Makes All The Difference In This Tuscan Soup

Tuscan Pappa al Pomodoro soup
Tuscan Pappa al Pomodoro soup - Andrey Zhuravlev/Getty Images

Pappa al Pomodoro is a Tuscan tomato and bread soup that's simple yet filling and ultra-thrifty. Chunks of stale bread get simmered into a custardy mush in a saucy tomato broth and vegetable or chicken stock. The result is a silky smooth bowlful that goes down easy, comforting with a cut of acidity from the tomatoes that keeps this dish from getting boring or one-dimensional.

It's a killer way to rescue stale bread from going to waste, not dissimilar from another Tuscan soup, aquacotta, a staple in the region's cucina povera culinary tradition. Pappa al Pomodoro can also be a flavorful way to showcase a ripe summer tomato harvest, or it can be made with crushed canned tomatoes, making this soup a bright, warming year-round dish. Plus, the leftovers are even more flavorful after an overnight stay in the fridge.

If you don't have any stale bread ready to go on hand, you can dry out fresh bread by slamming it in the oven for a few minutes. Although, keep in mind that creating Pappa al Pomodoro with oven-dried bread will yield a different textural result in your finished soup compared to using naturally stale bread. When bread becomes stale, its starch molecules are crystallizing and hardening. When bread is oven-dried, the moisture merely evaporates from the bread, leaving it thin and crispy like a potato chip. With this difference in mind, stale bread retains some of its firm texture in the soup's body, while dried bread softens much quicker.

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Stale Bread Adds Body, But Dried Bread Makes For Faster Prep Time

Drying bread on a baking tray at home
Drying bread on a baking tray at home - Shamil/Getty Images

Traditionally, this Italian culinary jewel showcases regional ingredients (tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, and basil) but is particularly celebratory of the Tuscany region. Tuscan bread historically doesn't contain salt, a natural preservative, and therefore goes stale quicker than other styles of bread. A zero-waste solution like Pappa al Pomodoro swoops in as an elevated pantry lifesaver. Plus, this Tuscan classic all comes together in a single stock pot or Dutch oven, making it a dinnertime superstar for busy weeknights.

If you want to dry your own bread at home, cut the bread cut into 2-inch cubes with the crusts removed, hit 'em with a drizzle of olive oil, and roast them on a baking sheet in the oven. Or, you could lean into the crustiness for a soup with a thicker body and make your Pappa al Pomodoro with stale ciabatta or any other rustic crusty bread. This fragrant soup can be served warm or chilled and, either way, it's extra delicious garnished with grated Parmigiano Reggiano and fresh chopped basil for a pop of color, plus a final surface drizzle of high-quality olive oil. To complete the meal, pair with a glass of red Tuscan pugnitello wine. The red and dark berry notes marry savory leathery earthiness for a dimensional yet complementary vino that'll let the high-quality ingredients in the Pappa al Pomodoro shine without fading too far into the background.

Read the original article on Tasting Table.