Tuscan Bread and Tomato Soup

Cathy Whims

Nostrana and Oven and Shaker - Portland, OR

Pappa al pomodoro is one of those recipes that proves reducing food waste is not a modern concept. Traditionally, this Italian dish relies on pieces of stale bread to soak up broth and thicken the soup. In this iteration, Cathy Whims doubles down on thrift by adding leftover Parmesan rinds, kicking up the umami level and adding complexity to this comforting classic.


  • 2 tablespoons plus 3/4 cup olive oil, divided
  • 1 clove garlic, slivered
  • 2 1/4 pounds ripe sweet tomatoes, peeled and seeded (or 1 pound plus 2 ounces canned plum tomatoes, squeezed and drained of most of their juices)
  • 1 (2-inch) Parmesan rind
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 loaf (12 ounces) stale Pugliese bread or other Italian bread
  • 2 large sprigs basil
  • Extra-virgin olive oil for serving


Add the 2 tablespoons olive oil and garlic into a heavy saucepan and cook gently until fragrant, about 1 minute. Just before the garlic turns brown, add the tomatoes and the Parmesan rind. Simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes become concentrated. Season with salt and pepper, then add 3/4 cup water and bring to a boil.

Cut most of the crust off the bread and cut into large chunks, about 1–2 inch cubes. Put the bread into the tomato mixture and stir until the bread absorbs the liquid and becomes mushy, adding more boiling water if it is too thick. Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly. If the basil leaves are large, tear them into smaller pieces. Stir the basil into the soup with 1/2 to 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil. Let sit before serving to allow the bread to absorb the flavor of the basil and oil. Remove the Parmesan rind before serving.

Serve the soup either at the traditional room temperature or warm. Divide the soup into bowls and drizzle each serving with extra-virgin olive oil.


10 servings