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Food: Feasts Under $5 – Pappa Al Pomodoro

October 10, 2011

There are two soups on every menu in Florence – Ribollita and Pappa al Pomodoro. I never really warmed to Ribollita – it always seemed bland – but Pappa al Pomodoro, a Tuscan bread and tomato porridge, became one of my favorites. It’s one of those simple dishes with few ingredients that relies more on timing than skill, and it makes a perfect Meatless Monday/Feast Under $5 because it’s cheap, delicious, and easy. The below recipe yields a brightly flavored, chunky mixture that will warm you on a cold day and fill you up for hours. I prefer to make this with sourdough – it gives the soup a tangy layer of flavor – but you can use Italian or French bread if you prefer. Conventional wisdom says to use day old bread, but I prefer the texture of fresh bread – your choice. There is little to no protein in this dish, so I would suggest continuing the Italian theme and adding a few cans of cannellini beans and simmering them with lemon juice, basil, and olive oil to round out the meal.

Pappa Al Pomodoro – serves 4
1 28oz can crushed tomatoes
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 cups water
7 oz (1/2 loaf) day old bread (sourdough, paesano, “rustic” italian, French) torn into pieces
1/2 tsp salt, plus pepper to taste
2 cans cannellini beans
1/4 cup chopped basil
1 shallot, chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
juice and zest from 1 lemon
salt to taste

Combine basil, garlic, and oil in large saucepan, heat over medium heat until garlic becomes fragrant (1-2 minutes). Add tomatoes, salt, and pepper, simmer 15 minutes. Boil 1 and 1/2 cups water. Add 1 cup of boiled water (1/2 to 1/4 cup will have evaporated during boiling) and bread to the tomato mixture, stir to combine, 1-2 minutes. Cover soup and let stand 30 minutes. For beans: saute shallot in 1 tbsp olive oil until fragrant. Add basil, saute 1 minute. Add beans (drained) and lemon juice, simmer for several minutes until warmed through. Voila.

Financial Analysis:
1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes: $1.99
fresh basil: $1.50 (you use a lot of basil in this dish)
1 loaf sourdough bread: $3.00
1 lemon: $1.59
1 shallot: $.50
2 cans Cannellini Beans: 1.09 x 2 = 2.18
Total: $10.78, or $2.70 per serving (4 servings)

As always, cost assumes you are using pantry staples.

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