So with all the chickens I roasted over the Christmas period, I made stock from the bones, most of which I have frozen but I did use some to make this delicious soup. Now Ina Garten annoys me slightly, I can't put my finger on why, she just does, but this recipe is delicious. My sister said it tasted just like Heinz tomato soup and that's definitely a compliment. I have to say that I blitzed the soup up at the end as I don't much like lumpy soups and I used celery instead of fennel, because I could not find fennel anywhere. I also didn't bother with the topping, most of my soups get transported to work for lunch so the topping wouldn't have worked lasted long enough, but this was so good.
Pappa al Pomodoro (from Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics)
1/2 cup good olive oil
2 onions, chopped
3 carrots, medium-diced
1 fennel bulb, trimmed, cored, and medium-diced
4 cloves minced garlic
3 cups 1-inch diced ciabatta cubes, crusts removed
2 28-ounce cans good Italian plum tomatoes
4 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
1/2 cup dry red wine
1 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
For the topping:
3 cups 1-inch diced ciabatta cubes
2 ounces thickly sliced pancetta, chopped
24 to 30 whole fresh basil leaves
3 tablespoons 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 375F
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.