Grandma Menna’s Kitchen: tomato-bread soup

Date luglio 22, 2009

The tomato-bread soup (known as pappa al pomodoro) is one of the most famous and prepared dishes of our culinary tradition, with a large number of versions.

It used to be my grand-grandad favourite dish. When I was a child my grand-grandad Pietro was very old, he had a huge hand, in which my little child hand seemed to disappear. He was a bit confused, so he kept on searching for the cows in my house, where there used to be the stable before. I used to run after him, take his hand and bring him back to Grandma Marcella, saying “Where are you going Grandad? There are no more cows!” while shaking my head as a grown-up little woman.

One day Grandma Marcella left him at home: my mother’s task was to prepare lunch for Grandad Piero. He asked for pappa al pomodoro and my mother, newlywed bride, answered frankly: how can I make it? My grand-grandad answer is in the top ten of our family comic moments: “Listen to me, make some plain pasta, it’s better!”

As you’ll see, it’s not so hardo to prepare, following Grandma Marcella directions!



  • stale Tuscan* bread, 200gr
  • ripe florentine** tomatoes, 2
  • garlic, 1 clove
  • basil, a lot
  • salt
  • extravirgin olive oil
  • (chili)

Break the bread into large pieces, put it in a large pot.

Blanch tomatoes in boiling water for 2 minutes, so that you can easily peel them. Deseed tomatoes, chop them and add them to the bread, togethr with garlic, basil leaves and salt. Cover with water.

There are various traditions: we use water, but you can use also light vegetable broth.

Let the soup simmer, stirring frequently so that the bread can become a mush. Let cook for about 30 minutes: it should be as in the picture above!

Set aside to cool and serve with some extra virgin olive oil and basil leaves. If you like it, you can add some chili.

* Tuscan bread is made without salt, this is the main characteristic of our bread.

** Tomato-bread soup is a dish that, with its semplicity, exalts tomato quality: we used florentine tomatoes, wonderful, with a red, firm and juicy pulp. They’re perfect in a salad or to make a sauce, not to mention pappa al pomodoro!

P.S. Just a remind! The poll for Gourmet Girl Magazine’s 2009 Summer Cupcake Crawl is now open! My Matcha and White Chocolate Cupcakes are waitinig for your kind support!! You can vote for me HERE!! You have time until 25 of July! THANK YOU!

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11 Responses to “Grandma Menna’s Kitchen: tomato-bread soup”

  1. Mathilde's Cuisine said:

    This is a very interesting recipe. I have never tried it before; thanks for sharing. A perfect idea when my mind runs out of ideas for dinner!


  2. s. stockwell said:

    Hi Jul, we just voted! good luck…this recipe is so fabulous but we just need a few little things to make it right??? like…the Tuscan bread and the Florentine tomatoes and the incredible olive oil? you are so lucky to have those amazing products. We will try it California style…we will probably add some chipotle pepper and a dash of orange zest? it will be different, but it will be good. thanks & best, s


  3. Frank said:

    Great stuff! I love pappa al pomodoro!

    Let me ask you, as a Tuscan, is it wrong to put more tomato in? Or to use pelati if you cannot find good, fresh tomato? Just curious…


  4. Rachel 'Tha Pizza Cutta' Joyce said:

    I’ve never heard of this dish and I’m kinda mad about it. This is comfort food and I can’t wait until I try it. Thanks for sharing your memory and this dish.



  5. Juls said:

    @ Mathilde: a perfect recipe for summer, jus as panzanella!

    @ Sherry: ciao Sherry! thank you for your vote! :-) Ok, I reckon it.. I’m a lucky girl! but I’m absolutely curious to see your California style pappa al pomodoro! Orange zest? interesting!

    @ Frank: Hi Frank!
    I think you can definetly use as much tomato as you want, as it is a simple soup, made just with simple but high quality ingredients… so, if you have good tomatoes, don’t exitate to use them! Pelati – good quality pelati – are good as well!
    Pappa al pomodoro is not a strict recipe… you can customerize it according to your needs and ingredients!


  6. Giulia said:

    @ Rachel: never tought at comfort food as pappa al pomodoro, but it can work! Thank you for your visit!


  7. sizzlechef said:

    Interesting. Thank you for sharing. Cheers !


  8. tasterussian said:

    OMG! What a view! Do you live there and see this beauty every day? You are SOOOOOOOOOOOO lucky…


  9. flyfra said:

    I love pappa al pomodoro! you should better cook a lot to me and juz and Ermanno once we come back in your town :D


  10. Tomato purée, or, as we call it, The Preserve | Juls' Kitchen said:

    [...] pappa al pomodoro, the tomato bread soup, one of my favorite recipes ever, something that tastes of summer even if made during the long winter nights if you use the tomato sauce bottled during the very hot days of August. Delicious by itself or as a filling for ravioli. [...]

  11. Pappa al pomodoro, the Tuscan tomato bread soup - Juls' Kitchen | Juls' Kitchen said:

    [...] the clearest example of these picturesque diversities. One of the first recipes I posted here was my grandma’s pappa al pomodoro, the Sienese version, made ​​with fresh tomatoes but fairly pale. This is undeniably the only [...]

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