Pappa al Pomodoro, by Steve Maslow

The soup is sprinkled with torn basil leaves and evoo and served very thick, so thick in fact that the Tuscan pays a compliment to the chef by joking that the Pappa should be served with a fork.

Read Steve’s ode to Pappa al Pomodoro here.



  • Two-day-old Tuscan bread (or any stale whole wheat bread), 8 oz
  • Carrot, 1, scraped
  • Red onion, ½, chopped
  • Garlic, 1 clove, peeled
  • Celery stalk, 1, chopped
  • Parsley, 5 sprigs, leaves picked
  • Fresh basil leaves, 3, plus more for serving
  • Hot pepper flakes, small pinch
  • EVOO, ¼ cup, plus more for serving
  • Sea Salt
  • Pepper
  • Piennolo Tomatoes, 1 jar (520g/ 18.6oz) or San Marzano Tomatoes, 1 can (800g/ 28.2oz)
  • Boiling chicken broth, about 1½ cups


  1. Cut the bread into cubes, and finely chop the carrots, onion, garlic, celery, basil and hot pepper in a food processor—but do not liquefy them.
  2. Heat the EVOO in a medium stockpot over medium heat and add the chopped ingredients and sauté until the onion is translucent, about 20 minutes.
  3. Pass the tomatoes through a food mill, or grind them in the food processor and add them to the stockpot until the mixture reduces by about half, approximately 15 minutes or more.  Stir the mixture with a wooden spoon from time to time so that the tomatoes do not stick to the bottom of the pot; get high on the aromas emanating from the top.
  4. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Add the bread and constantly mix with the wooden spoon until the sauce is completely absorbed by the bread and starts sizzling on the bottom of the stockpot, about 10 minutes.
  6. Add the boiling broth all together at once and mix well. The broth should cover the top of the bread by about 2 or 3 inches, otherwise add more broth.
  7. Cover stockpot without further mixing and let rest off the heat for about an hour.
  8. Vigorously mix bread and broth together until smooth before serving.

Join the Conversation

  1. Wow! What a beautiful linkage of history and culinary creation! I only wish all recipes and comments on specialized food products gave us so much to think about in terms of the depth of rivalries, personal gains and losses, and even personalities that come in the food we prepare. Thank you, Steve, for this very thoughtful piece, and in this case, “thoughtful” cuts both ways—your good thoughts in composing and the thoughts your piece inspire for all of us. You take us back to origins, always a good place to go literally and with literature as well. Much gratitude. How about more from you?

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