This soup is a great way to use up your tomatoes from the garden and day-old bread. You could also add any leftover vegetables you might need to use up. I know some people don't like soup in the summer. I am not one of those people! But if you are, this would make a great base for a minestrone soup in the fall and winter. You could use canned tomatoes, no problem!
Now, where did I get this recipe? Well, as you know, I started Cook My Book with some of my cooking friends and this recipe came from a book I have right now for 2 weeks from one of the club members, Jessica. You would not believe what we are talking about doing in Cook My Book! I don't want to to tell you all about it until I can show you. Stay tuned.
Anyway, one of the reasons I like this recipe is because I learned to do something new. So I thought I would share it with you. Peeling the skins off tomatoes sounds hard, but it's easy. I found a great tip from Thomas Keller and I tried it and it works great.
When the skin starts to curl (maybe 2 minutes, could be more, could be less, don't get distracted), take them out of the boiling water with tongs.
And plop them into the ice water. Leave them there for as long as it takes to get them back to room temperature or even colder, maybe a minute, probably more like 30 seconds.
Peel the tomatoes.
Tomato and Bread Soup
Adapted from Cook's Encyclopedia of Italian Cooking
4 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon hot chili flakes or 8 shakes
1 1/2 cups stale coarse white bread cut into 1/2 inch cubes, or torn into small pieces
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 pounds ripe tomatoes, blanched, peeled and chopped or 28 ounce can San Marzano whole tomatoes, chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
6 cups vegetable or chicken broth, homemade if possible
salt and freshly ground black pepper
Boil water in a large pot. Take a knife and cut an x in the tomato, just piercing the skin. Put the tomatoes in the boiling water for 1-2 minutes. Prepare a bowl of ice water while tomatoes are cooking. When the skins begin to curl, remove the tomatoes and place them in the ice bath briefly. The peels should easily come off the tomatoes, just peel them right off.
Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium low to medium heat. Add the chili pepper flakes and cook for about 1-2 minutes, just long enough for the flakes to flavor the oil. Add the bread cubes and stir and cook until they are golden brown. Remove them from the pan onto a plate.
Add the remaining oil, onion, and garlic. Cook until the onion is translucent. Add in the tomatoes, bread cubes, and basil. Cook for 15 minutes.
In a separate pot, heat the broth to simmering. Add it to the saucepan when the 15 minutes are up and bring the mixture to a boil and then lower heat to maintain a simmer for 20 minutes.
Remove the soup from the heat and mash it with a potato masher. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve as it or with a little sprinkle of parmesan.