another great zuni recipe - pappa al pomodoro
judy rodgers recommends this recipe for that situation when you have too many ripe tomatoes, half a loaf of yesterdays bread, and not much else. since that's what i had in the house last night, i decided to give it a try. it's a tuscan tomato soup, made from fresh tomatoes with a little onion, garlic, and basil, in which you soak stale bread. the results are wonderful -- almost like a tomato bread pudding. the stale bread develops a custardy texture after soaking in the tomatoes. the tomato flavor is intense. in texture this is like the comfort starches of deepest winter, but in flavor it is an explosion of midsummer. delightful.
(warning - you MUST use a sturdy bread that can hold up to soaking in the tomatoes. fluffy bread will fall apart. i used half a leftover pugliese loaf from sullivan st. bakery, which worked wonderfully.)
re: Carb Lover
field tomatoes from the nyc greenmarket (eckerton farms). these are your basic ny/nj beefsteak tomatoes. field grown, very ripe, lots of juice. juicy heirlooms would work too, but i wouldn't use romas or other sauce tomatoes. one thing to be careful of is adding sugar to balance the acidity of fresh tomatoes. i added just a pinch before adding the bread, and the soup still tasted acidic to me. but after the bread had soaked for 15 minutes, the tomatoes were quite sweet. any more sugar would have been too much.
i don't have the exact recipe handy, but i can remember it pretty well.
2 lbs fresh tomatoes
1 c. finely chopped yellow onion (1/2 onion)
3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1/2 c. olive oil (you can use less)
1 leafy branch fresh basil
approx. 1/2 loaf day-old bread, most crusts removed
s & p
pinch of sugar (optional)
1. blanch tomatoes or blister them over an open flame (i chose to blister over my gas burner). peel 1/2 of them. core and chop into 1/4 inch pieces, reserving all precious juices. you want about 1/2 of the tomato skins to add flavor and textural interest.
2. in a 4 qt pot w/ tight-fitting lid, warm about 1/4 c olive oil. add the onions and a pinch of salt and cook over med-low heat until they are sweet and soft, about 5-10 minutes. add garlic and cook for 2-3 minutes. strip leaves from basil and set aside.
3. add tomatoes w/ all their juices, another healthy splash of olive oil, and the basil stem. bring to a simmer. cook just until the tomatoes begin to take on the characteristic orange hue of cooked tomatoes, about 5-10 minutes. at that point, turn off the heat, remove basil stem, stir in reserved basil leaves and adjust salt. you may need a pinch of sugar to balance the acidity of the tomatoes. be careful here, don't add too much - leave a little acidity and wait to reserve judgment until after the bread has soaked in the soup.
4. when you are ready to serve the pappa, turn up the heat and bring the soup to a boil. tear the bread in wads and stir them into the tomatoes until they are just covered. turn off the heat, put on the lid, and let sit undisturbed for 15 minutes.
5. to serve, stir the pappa briefly and taste to adjust salt and acidity. be careful not to stir too much as you want to preserve the textural integrity of the separate wads of bread. ladle into bowls, drizzle with EVOO and grind some black pepper on top. enjoy!
oh - and i knew i would have leftovers so when i was ready to serve i ladled a small amount of tomato soup into a small pot and added a small amount of bread to that. then i stored the leftover tomato soup separately. today i had leftover pappa for lunch at work! i brought the tomatoes and bread separately. i heated the soup to boiling in the microwave, then put the bread wads in tupperware with the hot soup and put the lid on. 15 minutes later, voila! worked like a charm.
What a coincidence- I made this as a primo for last nights dinner followed by a roast chicken that generaly followed the zuni recipe. I used Batali's recipe with some decent dry farmed tomatoes and a pain campgnia loaf. Is the zuni technique much different than Mario's? I have a bit of the soup leftover and am hoping it will congeal enough in the fridge to allow it to be fried in the leftover roast chicken fat.