Pappa al Pomodoro – Italian Bread Soup
Pappa al Pomodoro is a classic Tuscan bread soup recipe made. It’s made with simple ingredients but is absolutely delicious and a great way to use up old bread – the Italian way. This recipe was originally published in 2010 and updated in 2021.
You may be thinking, “Bread? In my soup? Really?” But I promise it’s good. Pappa al Pomodoro is a typical Tuscan soup that I fell in love with at Ristorante Di Cambi in Florence.
This soup is the perfect late summer dinner to use up an abundance of fresh tomatoes, but good quality canned tomatoes are perfectly fine to use as well (you will just skip the roasting step, and increase the simmering on the stove time). Good Italian food is all about good quality fresh and simple ingredients. That’s it. I’m not sure Pappa al Pomodoro is traditionally made with roasted tomatoes, but roasting can only intensify and sweeten the tomato flavor, so I think it’s a great idea (which I got from a Jamie Oliver recipe).
Bread soup has been made in Tuscany for ages as an inexpensive way to prevent food waste. Other examples of cucina povera (poor food) recipes that use up old Tuscan bread are Ribollita and Panzanella.
Why This Recipe Works
Tomatoes, basil, garlic, and olive are one of the best combinations of Italian flavors. When simmered with stale bread, they create a thick, silky, hearty, and flavorful soup.
Pappa al Pomodoro is one of the classic recipes for using up old bread. It’s a family favorite in Tuscany and enjoyed by everyone from babies to elders.
This recipe works well with whatever tomatoes you happen to have as long as they are good quality ripe or canned tomatoes. I make it a little differently all the time.
Pictured above, I roasted halved large garden tomatoes then peeled them. I find roasting tomatoes really brings out their flavor and is simpler than blanching. You can peel after they are roasted, or use an immersion blender to blend in the skins. If you want your fresh tomatoes to be free of any skins or seeds, learn How to Peel Tomatoes here.
What You’ll Need for Authentic Pappa al Pomodoro
- Bread. Tuscan bread is very bland and stale as it is unsalted. Be sure so use a crusty bread here, rather than sandwich bread.
- Garlic and Onions.
- Tomatoes. I use fresh tomatoes in the summer and canned in the winter. You can even use cherry tomatoes here, which are one of my favorites to roast. Pappa al Pomodoro is tasty either way.
- Olive Oil. Cook the soup with olive oil and drizzle a bit more on top.
More Authentic Tuscan Recipes from My Travels
- 1 pound small fresh ripe tomatoes (such as cherry tomatoes)
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1 white or yellow onion, chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
- pinch red pepper flakes
- 1 (28 oz.) can whole peeled San Marzano tomatoes
- salt, to taste
- 3/4 pound stale crusty bread, torn into 1-inch pieces (about 5 cups)
- 1 cup fresh basil leaves, torn
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Prick the fresh tomatoes and place on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil and season with a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Roast until juicy, about 20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, saute the onion in about 3 tablespoons of olive oil until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook for about one minute longer.
- Add the canned tomatoes with juices, roasted tomatoes, and 2 cups water to the pot. Season with a pinch of salt and bring to a simmer. Simmer for about 15 minutes, until tomatoes have broken down, stirring occasionally and breaking up the tomatoes with a wooden spoon.
- Stir the bread pieces and half the basil into the simmering tomatoes. Simmer for 10 minutes, adding more water to thin as needed. Use your wooden spoon or a potato masher to blend the bread into the soup. Stir in the remaining basil. Pappa al Pomodoro should be thick and silky, like a porridge.
- Add salt to taste.
- Serve in bowls with a drizzle of olive oil on top and enjoy warm.