As we inch ever nearer October, the weather has turned unusually chilly. On the streets of Florence, and tiny Tuscan towns that surround our resort, Villa Campestri, in the Mugello valley, we see scarves and light jackets already making their way out of the winter wardrobe. It almost feels too much, too soon. But after such a long summer, we are quite happy to embrace this cooler weather and stunning sunsets, and to be quite frank, it gives us an appetite.
As we think about what recipes would best grace our tables during this period. Returning to classics are always a favorite as we crave something comforting and warm to help combat the oncoming chill of the night. In Tuscany, we are very lucky to have a wide range of traditional recipes passed down generation after generation. They mostly hail from peasant cuisine, a throwback to when Italy was quite poor, and locals were forced to be quite resourceful in their daily cuisine.
This also meant letting nothing go to waste, including stale bread — which is the staple for the recipe we want to provide you today. Pappa al pomodoro, a Tuscan bread soup, is as Tuscan as Dante Alghieri or the Medici family. The main ingredients include fresh tomatoes, stale bread, olive oil, garlic, basil. And there are so many different ways you can prepare it, and well, eat it (you can even use it as a stuffing for fresh ravioli). Keep in mind this is a stick-to-your-ribs type dish that is best served as an entree.
Olive Oil (Villa Campestri Extra Virgin) and regular olive oil (for cooking).
Stale bread, typical Tuscan without salt would be best. 500-800 grams.
1/1/2 kilos of ripe tomatoes, without skins and chopped
3 garlic cloves (large) crushed 1kg
A handful of fresh basil leaves, torn 1 small dried red chilli
fresh chili (optional). 12 large basil leaves torn
1 large red onion chopped
Tear or slice the bread into very small pieces. You want heat up a saucepan with a bit of olive oil and add your garlic and onion. You can add a bit of that fresh chili pepper now and saute everything for about eight minutes. Then add your tomatoes to the pan, season with salt and pepper and slowly cook for about 12-15 minutes (you can add a little bit of veggie broth if you feel it is too thick). Cook until the tomatoes are completely softened, then add the bread and cook slowly for about 20 minutes. At the end, add your basil leaves and taste to season. Top with high-quality extra virgin olive oil and garnish with a few extra basil leaves.
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