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Cucina Povera: Tuscan Peasant Cooking
by Pamela Sheldon Johns

Pappa al Pomodoro
This was the classic after-school snack in the past. Still pleasing to all ages, it can be made with fresh tomatoes in season, or with canned tomatoes in the off season. The word pappa means "baby food" or "mush" giving you a clue to the consistency of this soup. It was another of the many ways to use dry, day-old bread - use your favorite country-style bread and toast it.
Serves 4


• 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
• 3 cloves garlic, halved, plus I whole clove garlic
Pinch of red pepper flakes
• 1 pound fresh tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and cubed or 1 (14½-ounce) can peeled whole Italian tomatoes with juice, coarsely chopped
• 4 slices country-style bread, toasted
• 3 cups vegetable stock
• Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
• 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, julienned


In heavy, medium saucepan, combine the oil, halved garlic cloves, and pepper flakes, and cook over low heat for about 5 minutes to infuse the oil with the flavors; don't let the garlic burn. Using a slotted spoon, remove the garlic and discard. Add the tomatoes and simmer for 15 minutes.

Rub the toasted bread with the whole garlic clove, and place the bread in a large heatproof casserole. Pour the vegetable stock, and then the tomato mixture over the toast, and cook over medium-high heat for 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Spoon into warmed soup bowls and garnish with the basil.


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