Pappa al Pomodoro (Tomato and Bread Soup)

This bright and cozy dish falls somewhere squarely between a soup and a stew and comes together in just under an hour. Packed with fresh tomato flavor with hints of sweet basil, this dish thickened with day-old bread. It’s a stick-to-your-ribs meal that’s happens to be vegan and makes enough for about 5 generous portions. I like to use a high quality olive oil here to add a silkiness to the soup and top with plenty of fresh basil to remind me of warm summer days even in the height of winter.

Prep time 5mins
Cook time 50mins
Serves or Makes: 5 dinner servings

Recipe Card


  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and very thinly sliced
  • 5 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 2 (28-ounce) cans whole peeled tomatoes in puree
  • 1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • Black pepper
  • 1/4 cup white wine or water
  • 2 fresh basil, plus whole leaves for topping
  • 10 ounces day-old bread, tough crusts removed, torn
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • Flaky sea salt, for garnishing (optional)


  • Step 1

    Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large Dutch oven or heavy pot over medium-low heat. Add onions and cook, stirring often, until very soft with no browning, about 10 minutes. (Reduce heat to low if onions start to brown).

  • Step 2

    Stir in garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 more minute. Add tomato paste and cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until caramelized. Add salt and deglaze pan with white wine or water.

  • Step 3

    Crush tomatoes with your hands directly into the pot. Add remaining liquid from both cans, then fill each can about halfway with water and swirl to collect any tomato on the sides of the can. Add water to pot and stir until well combined. Add basil sprigs and simmer for 15 minutes.

  • Step 4

    Meanwhile, drizzle cherry tomatoes with olive oil and season with a pinch of salt in a small baking dish. Roast under the broiler for 15 minutes while soup simmers until blistered. Remove and set aside until ready to serve.

  • Step 5

    Remove pot from heat and stir in torn bread and 2 tablespoons olive oil. Let sit for 5-10 minutes before serving into bowls and topping with fresh basil, a drizzle of olive oil, and a sprinkle of flaky sea salt.