Pappa al pomodoro
- August 2012
- Small pot of fresh basil
- 2kg vine-ripened tomatoes, chopped
- 120ml extra-virgin olive oil, plus 5 tbsp extra to serve
- 6 fat garlic cloves, 1 left whole and the rest finely chopped
- 1 tsp caster sugar (optional – use only if your tomatoes lack sweetness)
- 4 x 2cm thick slices rustic white bread
- 12 good quality black olives, pitted and cut lengthways into shards
- 65g good quality parmesan, finely grated
- Pick the basil and separate the leaves from the stalks. Set the leaves aside and finely chop the stalks. Cut away the woody core from each tomato, put them in a heatproof bowl and cover with boiling water. Leave for 30 seconds until the skins split, then drain and peel. Cut into small chunky pieces.
- Put the 120ml olive oil in a large pan with the 5 chopped garlic cloves and set it over a medium heat. As soon as the garlic sizzles, add the chopped basil stalks, lower the heat and cook very gently for 1 minute, without letting the garlic brown.
- Add the tomatoes (and sugar if using) to the pan and leave to cook gently, stirring now and then, for a few minutes until they soften and release their juices. Good tomatoes should need no other liquid but if they’re not juicy enough and you don’t have a good soup consistency after 3-4 minutes, add up to 300ml water or light homemade chicken stock until you have about 2 litres of soup. Bring to a simmer and leave to cook gently for 5 minutes more. Don’t overcook the soup or you’ll lose the fresh flavour of the tomatoes.
- Lightly toast the bread slices. Halve the remaining garlic clove and rub it over both sides of each slice. Break the toast into small pieces into the bottom of 4 lightly warmed soup plates, drizzle each with 1 tbsp olive oil and sprinkle with a little salt.
- Tear the basil leaves into pieces and stir into the soup with some salt and plenty of black pepper to taste. Ladle the soup into the bowls and scatter with the black olives. Drizzle over the remaining olive oil, sprinkle with the parmesan, then serve. This soup should be served warm-hot rather than scalding hot.
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