I had the good fortune to eat at Stalla, the Italian restaurant at the Beau Rivage recently, and sampled lots of good food, but what stands out in my memory was the very simple and very delicious soup.
It is called Pappa al Pomodoro, a rustic Tuscan soup made of tomatoes and day old bread.
Dusted with just a bit of Parmigiano-Reggiano and a few basil leaves, it was nothing short of delightful.
This recipe is probably best when you use summer ripe tomatoes, but if you use the best-quality canned tomatoes you can afford, then you should be good. If you make it to Stalla make sure to say hello to Chef Paola Bugli, she is a Florentine and very accomplished in her Italian kitchen.
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Pappa al Pomodoro
1 chopped red onion
3-4 chopped garlic cloves
1 cup good white wine
2 1 pound cans whole tomatoes
1 small bunch basil
2 cups day old Italian style bread
Red pepper flakes
Salt as needed
Sauté the onion in oil, along with a pinch or two of red pepper flakes, for 10 minutes. Add garlic and cook 2 minutes, then add the wine and reduce by half. Put the tomatoes and juice in a blinder and pulse a few times, but do not blend smooth. Add the tomatoes to the garlic and onions and simmer for 15 minutes. Break the bread into bite size pieces and add to the soup. Garnish with the basil and top with Parmigiano-Reggiano. Now taste and season as necessary. This fine soup deserves to be served with a glass of the same good wine you used in the recipe.