Easy Bread Soup: Another Hearty Tuscan Winter Food How-To

posted in: Europe, Italy, Tuscany | 7
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In preparation for my latest book coming soon, be sure to get your

Photos for No Apparent Reason (PFNAR) 2017

and 2015

Because, coming soon, PFNAR 2016!

Throwback Tuesday Post (TBTP): Every Tuesday, I re-post a past post that I think is relevant and that you’ll enjoy.

This post was originally published on February 12, 2014 and updated on February 26, 2019.

I am marveling a little and bragging a little when I say that, here in Munich, we have had mostly spring weather so far this winter, with temps in the 40s and 50s and many sunny days. Despite the local weather, I know my fellow Americans have had one hell of a harsh winter this year. With that in mind, I bring you a recipe for another Tuscan soup that I learned to make on my trip to Italy in December. May it help you stay warm and cozy.

The last recipe I posted was how to make ribollita, a traditional Tuscan winter soup. It’s a vegetarian’s dream, hearty and delicious. You may have noticed that it was thickened with day-old bread.

In this week’s post I bring you another traditional Tuscan winter soup just as hearty and delicious. And it’s even easier to make. Tuscan bread soup is not only thickened with day-old bread, but bread is the primary ingredient. Adding flavor are a little garlic, tomato puree and fresh basil.

Here’s a shot of my pal Cyndie with our chef-instructor Andrea preparing the soup at Fattoria di Corsignano, the agriturismo we stayed at:

And here is the bread-a-licious goodness cooking up on the induction element shortly thereafter:

I can attest to the staleness of the bread we used there. It was crusty Tuscan white bread to start with and was so hard that I found it difficult to cut into cubes with a chef’s knife. But I managed, amid flying crust shrapnel.

Finally, here is the finished product on my plate at dinner that evening:

From the above photo you can understand how thick the consistency of the finished soup is. In fact, I’ve been searching for another word besides ‘soup’ to describe it. ‘Paste’ came to mind, but it didn’t sound very appetizing.

At any rate, once we returned to Germany after our Tuscan trip, Cyndie and I tested out the recipe at the Komnata Chista Test Kitchens (my personal kitchen). Here is the result:

We got pretty close, as you can see. We used baguettes instead of Tuscan bread, but it seemed to serve. However, I couldn’t find any fresh basil for our version, so we used dried. The taste was almost the same, but I do recommend fresh basil if at all possible.

So here’s how you do it:

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Soup, Tuscan Bread Recipe
  1. Peel two whole garlic cloves and cut a bunch of fresh basil leaves into small ribbons.
  2. In a soup pot, saute' the basil and garlic in a couple of tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil for a few minutes to extract the flavor. Remove the garlic cloves.
  3. Add the tomato puree and water or stock and heat almost to a boil.
  4. Cut the stale bread into 1-inch cubes and add to the soup, stirring well. Most of the bread will melt into the sauce but some lumps will remain.
  5. Season to taste with a pinch of red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Continue stirring until the soup is hot through. Serve hot with a sprig of fresh basil on top.
Recipe Notes

As variations, you can add sliced onions to the saute and crush or chop the garlic and leave it in the soup.

You can also use fresh or canned whole tomatoes if you want to puree them yourself.

Bread soup pairs well with a medium-bodied or light full-bodied red wine. However, the soup has a fairly high acid content because of the tomato puree, so a softer, not-overly-tannic wine like Merlot works best (Miles’ opinion notwithstanding).

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The soup is very filling and doesn’t take much for a serving. Fortunately it makes great leftovers. But cut this recipe in half for four people or less if you don’t want it to become a science experiment in the refrigerator later in the week.

This recipe is great for beginners and young people who are just learning how to cook. I hope you try this dish and let me know how you like it. Happy winter days!

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7 Responses

  1. Lauren Carr

    I wanna know who made the "Pickle-Sculpture" …. Love the "Soup" even though it has an appearance of PATE……Seems like an "OUGHTTA-TRY"!

  2. Anonymous

    i was thinking the same thing lauren…pickle sculpture what a hoot…but the dinner sounds easy and yummy too

  3. Deb

    Yes, seems like another word is needed instead of soup. Looks yummy! The pickle is right up there with my sculpturing talent 🙂

  4. r. annan

    If I do try making that soup, I will wear body armor to avoid the "flying crust shrapnel." I can see it already, breaking every window pane in the kitchen, but well worth it, in the end. That gherkin looks so lonely…r. annan

  5. Anonymous

    This soup entrigued me, so, having some unused time on my hand, I tried to duplicate it. I think I got real close, but I felt the urge to use four cups of turkey broth (I had some cans left over from somehting). It tasted good with the stale french bread from Publics, and the herbs and the garlic. It's a soup hard to spoil, I think. Good job, Karren..r.annan

  6. Cyndie

    OMG! You’re killing me with these memories! I still talk (brag) about our kitchen high jinks. Andreas was so cool but cooking in your German kitchen was the ultimate experience. Remember the pasta?

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