We are now counting down the weeks until we leave Umbria, and I am once again working to empty out my freezer before we have to close up our farmhouse until we return in six months. I had prepared a few bags of chopped tomatoes from my garden last month that I decided to turn into soup. We like big flavored, hearty soups that we can use as our main course for dinner along with a generous mixed veggie salad, and this soup fits that description to a tee. This soup is an excellent example of how Italians find a use for everything, including stale bread. The bread is used to thicken the soup, creating a stick-to-your-ribs meal in a bowl. The best bread for this soup is a coarse textured, Italian bread that has dried out for a day or two. The typical gummy loaf of bread sold as “Italian” in many grocery stores in North America will not work in this soup.
The soup is very similar to the traditional Tuscan Pappa al Pomodoro soup, except that it is flavored with dried porcini mushrooms and other vegetables. The mushrooms give the soup a rich, meaty flavor that is delicious. I have found that this soup freezes well, although when you reheat it, you may need to add additional broth to thin it out. I like to serve this soup with a drizzle of our own extra virgin olive oil, a sprinkling of grated Pecorino Romano cheese, or sometimes even a dollop of basil pesto.
Deborah Mele 2016
Porcini & Tomato Bread Soup
- 2 (20 Gram) Packages Dried Porcini Mushrooms
- 1/4 Cup Olive Oil
- 2 Carrots, Finely Chopped
- 1 Medium Onion, Finely Chopped
- 2 Celery Sticks, Finely Chopped
- 3 Garlic Cloves, Peeled & Minced
- 2 (14 Ounce) Cans Chopped San Marzano Tomatoes
- 1 to 2 Cups Chicken or Vegetable Broth
- 1/4 Cup Finely Chopped Fresh Parsley Leaves
- 2 Tablespoons Chopped Fresh Basil
- Salt & Pepper To Taste
- 1/2 Teaspoon Hot Chili Flakes (Optional)
- 3 to 3 1/2 Cups Cubed Stale, Italian Bread (See Notes Above)
- Drizzle Of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Grated Pecorino Romano Cheese
- Dollop of Basil Pesto
Soak the porcini mushrooms in a cup of warm water for 20 minutes.
Strain the liquid and set aside, and finely chop the mushrooms.
In a large stockpot, heat the oil over medium heat, then cook the carrots, onion, and celery until softened, about 5 minutes.
Add the garlic and cook another minute or two until fragrant.
Add the mushrooms, tomatoes, 1 cup of broth, and bring to a boil.
Reduce the heat to a simmer, then add the parsley, basil, salt, pepper, and chili flakes and mix well.
Simmer for 30 minutes, taste and adjust seasonings as needed.
Stir in the bread and continue to stir until the bread breaks down and thickens the soup.
If too thick, add the additional cup of broth if needed.
Serve the soup warm with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, or other suggested toppings.