Recipe of the week
When summer hands you bushels of tomatoes, do as the Tuscans do, said chef Evan Kleiman in the Los Angeles Times. A bread-and-tomato soup rooted in costconscious farmhouse cooking, pappa al pomodoro is “a bowl of luxuriousness created from thrift,” perhaps the most elegant mush you’ll ever spoon into your mouth. It’s best served at room temperature, with a sprinkle of Parmesan.
Pappa al pomodoro
Extra-virgin olive oil • 4 peeled and smashed garlic cloves • 6 sage leaves • 3 lbs ripe stewing tomatoes, quartered, stem ends removed • kosher salt • 5 large or 8 small basil leaves • freshly ground black pepper or red chile flakes • 3 or 4 slices of rustic bread, lightly toasted or slightly stale
• Heat a heavy pot over medium heat. Coat bottom with 1/8 inch of olive oil. Add garlic and sage. Cook until garlic is aromatic and sage begins to crisp, about 1 minute. Stir in tomatoes, 1 tbsp of salt, and basil. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until tomatoes begin to break down, about 10 minutes. Remove lid and continue to break down tomatoes, using a potato masher or sturdy whisk. Adjust salt; add black pepper or chile flakes to taste.
• Remove sauce from heat and run through a food mill. Return to pot and bring to a simmer. Add half the bread, torn into big pieces, and a good drizzle of oil. Simmer a few minutes, then remove from heat, cover, and set aside at least 15 minutes, allowing bread to expand. For thicker soup, add bread, a slice at a time. Serves 6 to 8. ■