Pappa al Pomodoro

Tomato and Bread Soup

This is a very thick soup, which makes the best of the glut of over-ripe tomatoes at the end of a Tuscan summer, combined with that ever present stand-by ingredient, stale bread. It is marvelous served lukewarm with plenty of basil and extra olive oil to drizzle over it. Oddly, this soup was made famous during the sixties because there was a pop song, sung by Rita Pavone, which was all about how wonderful this soup was… I think, though the soup could well have been symbolic of something quite different! It is a very traditional part of the classic Tuscan menu repertoire.


  • 6 cups vegetable, chicken or meat broth
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • lb very ripe, soft tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 8 tablespoons olive oil
  • 14 oz stale crusty Italian bread, crusts removed and sliced thin
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • a handful of fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


  1. Heat the broth gently in a large saucepan. While it is warming, heat the olive oil in a separate saucepan and fry the onion and tomatoes together over a low heat for about 10 minutes or until softened.
  2. Push the onion and tomato mixture through a food mill or strainer and add it to the hot broth. Stir thoroughly.
  3. Add the bread, garlic, and basil and season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover and simmer gently for about 45 minutes or until thick and creamy, stirring occasionally.
  4. Stir in the remaining oil, taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary, add some more basil and serve either hot or at room temperature.

Serving Suggestion

Serve this delicious soup with a traditional Italian bread, such as Pugliese bread.