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Pappa al Pomodoro

This humble bread-and-tomato soup is from Livorno, Tuscany. It is fiercely Tuscan in its simplicity, and therefore requires the ingredients to be perfect: the tomatoes must be very ripe, the basil must be very fresh, and the bread must be very stale. Pomodoro means tomato, and pap means something soft-and this soup seems more like what we might call a porridge. You might find this dish odd at first, but it's rather easy to get used to. You can serve the soup at just about any temperature, but we're partial to room temperature. If you want to eat it the Tuscan way, drizzle obscene amounts of fabulous olive oil over it; to the Tuscans, in fact, the pappa is little more than an excuse for eating olive oil. Serves 4

SKU 478-Recipe

  • 4 Serves


  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, halved
  • 1/3 cup minced shallots
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh sage leaves
  • 1/2 cup packed fresh basil leaves
  • four 1-inch-thick slices of stale Italian bread (about 3 inches in diameter), cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 3 1/2 pounds fresh ripe tomatoes (about 9 tomatoes), peeled, seeded, and chopped (about 4 cups)
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • top-quality Tuscan extra-virgin olive oil for drizzling


  1. Heat the 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil in a large saucepan over moderately low heat. Stir in garlic halves, shallots, sage and basil leaves. Cook, stirring, for 3 minutes. Stir in bread cubes, and stir constantly for 2 minutes.
  2. Add the tomatoes and stock, and cook, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes. Remove from heat, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover, and let stand for 1 hour. Stir vigorously until bread and tomatoes are fairly smooth. Serve at room temperature. Divide among 4 soup bowls, and pass Tuscan extra-virgin olive oil for drizzling.