Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Soup That Warms

Winter is in full force in Omaha, and I can't manage to stay warm. Last night I went to bed with the space hearter on with four blankets covering me, two pairs of socks, sweatpants and a T-shirt--still shivering. Heading to Dario's for late-night happy hour helped only temporarily to releave the aches and pains of sub-zero temperatures. Dario's is so cozy, and its Belgian beer takes the chill off. Someone said it reminded them of a ski lodge after hours--I just love that comparison.

Monday night after yet another bout of shoveling the driveway, this soup, with my cold hands cupped around the bowl, warmed me up.

Pappa al pomodoro is a chunky tomato soup with soggy pieces of bread in it, lending a creamy quality. This was my first time using tomatoes from San Marzano, which turned out to be really sweet (for tomatoes). The crispy topping was maybe the best part of the soup. The crunchy pancetta with toasted bread and the tomato soup reminisced pepperoni pizza. This whole thing roasted on the stove while I was out in the cold pushing snow and slipping on the ice.

Pappa al Pomodoro: by Ina Garten
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 medium onion, chopped
3 carrots, chopped
1 fennel bulb (I substituted celery)
4 garlic cloves, minced
3 cups Italian loaf, cubed
28-ounces whole tomatoes
4 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup red wine
1 tablespoon dried basil
salt and pepper
parmesan cheese

3 cups Italian loaf, cubed
2 ounces sliced pancetta, chopped
dried basil
olive oil
salt and pepper
In a large stock pot, saute the carrots, onions, garlic and celery (or fennel) in olive oil until the onions are translucent. Add the cubes of bread and saute another 5 minutes. Ladle in the the tomatoes, squishing each one with your hand. Pour in stock, wine, basil and salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and let sit partially covered for 45 minutes.
For the toppins, arrange the bread and pancetta on a baking tray. Preheat the oven to 375. Drizzle bread and pancetta with olive oil (because that Italian-style bacon needs more fat), basil leaves and salt and pepper. Toast in the oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until crisp. Serve on the soup with parmesan cheese.

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