pappa al pomodoro

Traditional Tuscan cuisine – “La pappa al pomodoro

On a wet and grey Florentine Tuesday like today, there’s nothing like a simple Pappa al Pomodoro soup to keep you toasty to the core. Gloriously thick and comforting, this Tuscan bread and tomato soup is a fundamental and cost-effective dish in traditional Tuscan cuisine, enjoyed either warm or cold. The essentials remain as: stale Tuscan bread (it should be dense and crusty, and most importantly, without salt), high quality extra virgin olive oil, and sweet peeled plum tomatoes (jarred or super-ripe from the vine). So, salvage that stale loaf in your pantry and let it soak up that oozing tomatoey mixture.

Ingredients for 4 people:

  • 800g of ripe plum tomatoes, peeled
  • 200g of stale unsalted bread, crusts removed and torn into small chunks
  • 1 large onion, finely diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 cup of vegetable stock
  • 50ml of extra virgin olive oil
  • 15 basil leaves, torn
  • 1 tsp of sugar
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan and add the onion and garlic on a low heat until soft and lightly golden.
  2. Add the peeled tomatoes, cooking them on a low heat for about 20 minutes until broken down into the mixture
  3. Add half of the basil leaves, vegetable stock, sugar and bread chunks and cook on low heat for about 10 minutes.
  4. Stir vigorously every so often with a whisk to melt the bread and obtain a creamy texture.
  5. Season well with salt and pepper.
  6. Set aside for at least an hour to let the flavours immerse. Add the rest of the basil leaves and a drizzle of olive oil, then serve warm or cold.


  • The Florentine version has been known to use battuto, a paste of finely chopped celery, onion, carrot and tomato purée, for a deeper red and smoother texture. This can be added in step 1.
  • If using tinned tomatoes, strain them and reserve the tomato juice. This should then be added in step 3 with the vegetable stock. San Marzano tomatoes are a popular choice for this dish.
  • In step 3, if the bread still seems ‘poco rossa’, or not very red, add a bit of tomato purée to give it a richer colour and taste.
  • For a purer flavour, switch the vegetable stock for lightly salted hot water.
  • For a bit of heat, add a pinch of chilli flakes with the onion and garlic.

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