Today’s featured dish from one of my favourite cookbooks, How to Cook Italian by Giuliano Hazan, is a Tuscan ‘poor man’s soup’ made with a few simple, healthy, fresh ingredients. Historically, this recipe was a way to use up stale bread so it didn’t go to waste (something I still find useful now).
I loved this delicious soup; the broth with a full tomato and herb depth of flavour, made richer by the olive oil and lovely hearty bread pieces thickening it up. The best recipes are like this; good quality, easily-accessible ingredients, no fancy kitchen gadgets or endless chopping and dicing and perfect for everyone from little ones to adults; everybody sitting around a scrubbed wooden table enjoying the company and the food. Vegetable stock was the base in this dish instead of the traditional beef and I used a good, crusty, Italian bread to stand up to simmering in the soup.
This lovely, classic soup is a welcome peasant dish in a world where we tend to lean towards ostentatious, needless fussing over food.
Recipe for Tuscan Tomato Bread Soup
550g vine ripened tomatoes
Tiny pinch chilli flakes
4 cloves garlic, sliced
45mls extra virgin olive oil
Freshly ground sea salt & black pepper
20 fresh basil leaves
3 cup chicken or vegetable stock (low sodium)
4 pieces sour dough bread, day old preferred, sliced into bite-sized chunks
Roughly chop tomatoes. Add olive oil, chilli flakes and garlic to a large, heavy based saucepan and bring to a gentle simmer, browning the garlic pieces on both sides for a couple of minutes; remove the garlic pieces from the pan.
Add the tomatoes to the oil and season well. Pour in the stock and stir to combine. Add the bread, cover the pan and bring to a medium/high simmer then lower heat to low and gently simmer for 10 minutes.
Tear the basil and add to the soup, stirring through, place the lid back on and remove pan from the hotplate, allowing to sit for 20 minutes. Serve soup warm.
Adapted from: How to Cook Italian