This vegan, gluten-free Pappa al Pomodoro recipe is brought to you in partnership with my friends Little Northern Bakehouse. As always opinions are 100 percent my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that make this site and my pantry soups possible!
I have written extensively about my pantry hoarder tendencies. It is for this reason and many others, that I’ve always told Charlie I would be an excellent asset in an apocalypse.
We are not yet surviving solely on our larder, but these unprecedented times have given us a slightly more intimate look at that reality. Certainly more so than binging on The Walking Dead.
It’s also, I’m hoping, giving people an appreciation for how the wastefulness that has become our status quo, can no longer stand. I speak for myself here too. For though I have made a concerted effort over the last two years to start composting and limiting what waste ends up in landfill, I still don’t always do a good job of dusting off old cans in my well-stocked pantry or making sure whatever fresh food I buy doesn’t perish in my crisper drawer.
This week, that meant using up the two large cans of whole tomatoes that we always seem to be saving for a rainy day, but in reality have been sitting at the back of the cabinet for years. It also meant working our way through a bread loaf that’s on the precipice of becoming moldy, since fridge space is at too much of a premium to store it there.
For my pantry recipe ideas, I’ve been constantly resorting to peasant food from various cultures. It’s one of my favorite tips for making your grocery bill more affordable, and certainly when fresh food is scarce. This is how I remembered the fabulous Tuscan tomato and bread soup recipe Pappa al Pomodoro.
There are plenty of incarnations of these simple ingredients: stale bread, tomatoes, onion and garlic. In southern Spain, it’s salmorejo, which purees the bread right into the soup to create a gorgeous orange hue. In central Italy, they simmer chunks of it with canned tomatoes until the bread is soft and the whole soup is chunky and rustic and tastes like an Old World deconstructed bread bowl.
Like many peasant dishes, this Pappa al Pomodoro recipe only tastes better as it sits – a perfect soup to make for the week ahead when you’re at your wits end and can’t handle going back to the stove for another meal.
To make this recipe both vegan AND gluten-free, I adapted the recipe from an Ina Garten classic using Little Northern Bakehouse White Wide Slice bread. Their loaves are not only gluten-free but egg-free as well–which is a hard thing to find in the grocery aisle–and certified as Glyphosate Residue Free by third-party testing so consumers don’t have to worry about this cancer-causing substance. We’ve been keeping an arsenal stocked and are on a constant mission to work our way through our excess bread!
Though the soup already is made up of half bread, don’t skip the crunchy crouton topping. And if you wanted to use any remaining toasted bread for dipping, well, I wouldn’t judge you one bit.
What have been your favorite pantry peasant dishes lately? Tell me in the comments!
With health and hedonism,
Gluten-Free Pappa al Pomodoro (Tuscan Bread and Tomato Soup)
- 2 28-ounce cans Italian plum tomatoes
- Olive oil
- 1 small yellow onion diced
- 1 medium carrot finely diced
- ½ fennel bulb finely diced
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- 1 tablespoon sea salt
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 4 cups diced Little Northern Bakehouse Wide Slice White Bread preferably stale
- 4 cups vegetable broth
- ¼ cup fresh basil leaves optional
- ¼ cup fresh parmesan or vegan parm optional
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
- In a blender or food processor, puree the tomatoes until smooth. Set aside. Alternatively, you can begin with canned diced tomatoes and skip this step, but the whole taste better!
- In a large stockpot or Dutch oven, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over a medium flame. Add the onions, carrot and fennel. Sauté, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are soft and beginning to brown, about 8 minutes. Stir in the garlic, salt, red pepper flakes and 2 ½ cups of the bread. Cook for two minutes more, until fragrant.
- Carefully pour in the tomatoes and vegetable broth. Bring to boil over high heat, then reduce to medium-low and simmer until the soup has thickened slightly and the bread is completely soft, about 40 minutes.
- Meanwhile, make the topping: toss the remaining bread with 2 tablespoons olive oil on the prepared sheet pan. Arrange in an even layer and toast in the oven until golden brown, about 20 minutes. Remove, season with salt, and set aside.
- To serve, ladle the soup into bowls and divide the croutons between them. Garnish with basil and cheese, if using, and a generous drizzle of olive oil.