I just made my first bowl of pappa al pomodoro, a tomato bread soup that I had at Cafe Spiaggia in Chicago a few weeks ago. My home attempt didn't match the creamy, smooth perfection of Spiaggia's, but the soup was still tasty and brought abundant comfort, along with that warm happy feeling in my tummy that I attribute to good bread and accoutrements. There's a simple recipe in this month's Gourmet magazine, and I loosely followed that. This made about two servings, and before adding the bread I divided the broth in half and only added bread to the portion I would eat today.
Add oil and two cloves minced garlic to a cold saucepan. Turn to medium and heat until garlic is softened and sizzling. Add tomatoes--I used half of a large can of crushed San Marzanos. Add salt, pepper, and allow to bubble until thickened slightly. Add 1 cup of water, allow to simmer a bit longer. Add diced bread cubes--from the center of a good italian loaf (the kind with a chewy, crisp crust--though you don't want to use the crusts. Eat them with cheese while the soup finishes) and basil. Stir until soup thickens and the bread absorbs the tomato base. You can add more water if the soup is too thick for your liking. Serve with plenty of freshly ground pepper, a pinch of salt, drizzle of olive oil, and shavings of parm-reg. Cherish the bliss that spreads through your body, mind, and soul while eating!