By Gourmet Nun
Tuscan Food has grown rapidly in popularity in recent years. Since opening a new house in Barga, Italy, in the heart of Tuscany, we have become quite familiar with much of the Tuscan way of life-including foods most typical of that area. This herbed Tuscan tomato bread soup has become one of our favorites. It is delicious hot, cold, or at room temperature, and it will be even more flavorful if you use home grown garden-fresh tomatoes as they come into season.
Tuscan Tomato, Bread and Herb Soup
3 pounds of tasty, ripe tomatoes
Good extra-virgin olive oil |
2 large cloves of garlic, one whole, one finely chopped or crushed
2 medium onions, very finely chopped
3 sticks celery, very finely chopped
Pinch of salt
Small bunch of basil, leaves only (at least 25 leaves)
1 ½ pints chicken or vegetable broth
½ loaf Italian bread, cut into small pieces
Bring a large pot of water to a boil and turn off the heat. Put the tomatoes into the water and leave for a couple of minutes. Test with a knife tip to see if the skin peels away easily. Discard water, skin the tomatoes and finely chop.
Heat ½ cup olive oil in a large pot. Add the whole clove of garlic, the onions and celery and sauté for a few minutes, until the onion is translucent, but not browning.
Add the chopped tomatoes, a pinch of salt and some black pepper, and cook gently for a couple of minutes.
Add stock and the pieces of bread. Cook, covered, for another 20 minutes on a low flame. Add more stock or hot water if necessary.
Locate the cooked garlic and squeeze it back into the dish with a garlic press. Add the raw chopped or crushed garlic and the finely chopped basil. Taste for seasoning.
You can serve this hot, at room temperature or chilled. Serve with plenty of freshly ground black pepper and raw extra virgin olive oil to swirl on top at the table.