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make this soup [May. 3rd, 2009|10:20 pm]
[Current Mood |cheerfulcheerful]

This soup is heavenly. Even someone like me didn't mess it up. My mistake was starting the soup late at night when we were hungry and tired, but it tasted wonderful after not much work.

Pappa al Pomodoro
From Barefoot Contessa: Back to Basics

1/2 c. good olive oil
2 c. chopped yellow onion (2 onions)
1 c. medium-diced carrots, unpeeled (3 carrots)
1 fennel bulb, trimmed, cored, and medium-diced (1 1/2 cups)
4 tsp minced garlic (4 cloves)
3 c. (1-inch) diced ciabatta cubes, crusts removed
2 (28-ounce) cans good Italian plum tomatoes
4 c. chicken stock, preferably homemade
1/2 c. dry red wine
1 c. chopped fresh basil leaves
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 c. freshly grated Parmesan

For the topping:

3 c. (1-inch) diced ciabatta cubes
2 oz thickly sliced pancetta, chopped
24 to 30 whole fresh basil leaves
3 Tbsp good olive oil, plus more for serving

Salt and pepper

Heat the oil in a large stockpot over medium heat. Add the onions, carrots, fennel, and garlic and cook over medium-low heat for 10 minutes, until tender. Add the ciabatta cubes and cook for 5 more minutes. Place the tomatoes in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade and process just until coarsely chopped. Add the tomatoes to the pot along with the chicken stock, red wine, basil, 1 tablespoon salt, and 1 1/2 teaspoons pepper. Bring the soup to a boil, lower the heat, and allow to simmer, partially covered, for 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

For the topping, place the ciabatta cubes, pancetta, and basil on a sheet pan large enough to hold them in a single layer. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and toss well. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 20 to 25 minutes*, until all the ingredients are crisp. The basil leaves will turn dark and crisp, which is perfectly fine. Reheat the soup, if necessary, beat with a wire whisk until the bread is broken up. Stir in the Parmesan and taste for seasoning. Serve hot sprinkled with the topping and drizzled with additional olive oil.

*It took a lot less time for me