Recipe: Tomato soup with basil oil and croustades

A traditional Italian soup that's sure to impress

Recipe: Tomato soup with basil oil and croustades

There is a wonderful tomato-bread soup made in Tuscany called pappa al pomodoro. This version simmers away in a slow cooker while you crisp bite-sized pieces of crusty Italian bread in the oven and make a quick basil-olive oil purée for drizzling. Not exactly like Mama might make, but wow, this soup could star at your next dinner party. It's vegan-friendly, too.

Serves 6

Ingredients

FOR THE TOMATO SOUP
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
3 large yellow onions, sliced length-wise
Salt
¼ tsp crushed red pepper
10 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
4 tins whole San Marzano tomatoes, drained, crushed with your hands
1.5 ltr vegetable stock
6 to 8 sprigs fresh thyme
2 large sprigs fresh basil

FOR THE CROUSTADES
Small loaf rustic bread torn into
bite-sized pieces
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper

FOR THE BASIL OIL
180ml extra-virgin olive oil
20g fresh basil leaves
1 clove garlic, minced
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Method:

1. Start the soup: Heat the olive oil in a large skillet. Add the onions, 1 tsp of salt, and the crushed red pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions have softened. Add the garlic and cook for three mins more.

2. Transfer the sautéed vegetables to a slow cooker and add the tomatoes, stock, thyme and basil sprigs and 1 tbsp salt.

3. Cook on high for six hours.

4 .While the soup is cooking, make the croustades: Preheat the oven to 200°C.

5. Place the torn bread pieces on a large baking sheet and drizzle with the olive oil. Season and bake until golden and crisp, 12 to 15 mins. Set aside to cool.

6. To make the basil oil, combine the olive oil, basil leaves, and minced garlic in a blender. Process until the leaves are finely chopped.

7. When you are ready to serve the soup, remove and discard the thyme sprigs. The basil sprigs should be very soft and can be left in or removed. Taste the soup, and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Ladle the soup into wide shallow bowls and garnish with some of the croustades. Drizzle the basil oil over the soup to taste, and then sprinkle with pepper.

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