The first time I had Tomato Bread Soup (Pappa al Pomodoro) was with my friend John at Drago restaurant (it is now closed) in Santa Monica. I'm a fan of tomato soup (but not a fan of Campbell's Tomato Soup as a kid), but this was something special. This is thick and rich, and a perfect lunch on a cool day. I brought Jill there later and she endorsed the soup and said that we had to learn how to make it. Well, it took me a few years, but I found and adapted a recipe from Ina Garten (who always gets it right), combined it with what I remembered from Drago, and we love it.
OK, what do you do with Fennel? My friend and chef Antonio says, "You can't go wrong with Fennel." He forages for it, then peels and eats it like a carrot all the time. Well, for this recipe, you cut off the furry stalks, then core, peel and chop the bulb.*
Dice the carrots, fennel,and onions, and put it all in olive oil, along with 6 cloves of minced garlic. Let it saute for 10 minutes. Add 3 cups of diced french bread. Saute and let it soak up flavored oil.
Add tomatoes, stock, garlic-onion-fennel-bread mixture, salt, pepper, crushed red pepper (optional), basil, and red wine. Simmer for at least 30 minutes.
We are making Roasted Cauliflower Croutons. Take one or two heads of cauliflower and chop into small pieces. Think about the size of pieces you would want on top of your soup. Coat lightly with olive oil and bake at 450 degrees, for 20-30 minutes, turning over a few times, until brown and a little crispy. Sprinkle some parmesan cheese and the cauliflower pieces on top of the soup when you are ready to serve!
Serving Size 8 Servings