Thursday, December 25, 2008

Barefoot Bloggers: Pappa Al Pomidoro

I had never heard of Pappa Al Pomidoro but I always enjoy soup - especially this time of year.  My wife doesn't really like tomatoes but she is usually ok if there are not chunks of tomato so I decided to give it a shot.  I did try to chop the tomatoes a little finer than the recipe intended for my wife but I don't think it took anything away from the recipe.

I must just shop at the wrong places but this is the second recipe in a row where I have had trouble finding an ingredient.  I don't think I have ever seen a thick sliced pancetta.  I suppose a good deli probably has pancetta that has not been cut an pre-packaged.  I decided to substitute good american bacon for the pancetta.  In most recipes I like the flavor of bacon better than pancetta anyway - although it probably added a little too much fat to the soup.

I also seem to be having trouble reading recipes lately.  When I got to the part of the recipe where it said to add the salt - 1 Tablespoon of salt seemed like a lot but I added it anyway.  Well it was too much and the soup turned out a little on the salty side.  It is only now that I see in the ingredient list that I was supposed to use kosher salt.  It should be no issue using table salt in place of kosher salt but 2 tsp table salt would probably be about the same as the Tablespoon of kosher salt.  Oh well - it wasn't too bad.  I should have at least trusted my instincts and left out some of the salt until the end when I could do the seasoning to taste.

I think it was a good soup but I don't think I will be making it again.  My wifes review of the soup is "too tomatoey".  I am not really sure that is a bad thing for most people in a tomato soup but it is for her.

Have I remembered to thank my wife for my dutch ovens?  I have always wanted one but could never bring myself to plunk down $200-$300 for a single pan.  Well last year I found the Mario Batali cookware at Crate and Barrel that looked pretty nice.  Then I also saw that Martha stewart had some nice looking dutch ovens at Macys.  My wife ended up buying me both a 5.5 and 7 quart Martha Stewart Dutch oven earlier this year.  I can definitly say that they have been great.  I thought it would be something I would use a couple of times a year but I am using them all the time.  I have never used Le Cruset but I can't imagine how they would be much better than these.  They look great and so far the finish is holding up well.  I think she said she got both of them for less than $100 - can't beat that; I am sure there were coupons and sales involved.

Thanks to Natalie of Burned Bits for this recipe choice.  I'm always up for soup.

Pappa Al Pomidoro
(Source: Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics, Page 68)
Serves 6

  • 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
  1. 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.
  2. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  3. 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.


Lisa said...

I haven't made this yet mainly because I am not really sure what to expect of it, but your post helps. It sounds like a chunky tomato soup of sorts. I'm not real excited about this recipe, but hopefully it'll turn out to be a pleasant surprise...

Anonymous said...

I made this soup yesterday. I think I 've added a little bit too much of the redwine (I actually thought: the more, the better).
But so it was a very funny evening.

@lisa: you should try it