Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Italian Tomato Bread Soup

Today I retrieved a brick from the freezer in the garage. It looks like a brick, it weighs like a brick and to be very honest, it has the consistency and coloring of an (old) brick. Nevertheless, it is not, trust me. What I pulled out of the freezer this morning is a remnant of my pre-bread machine days. It's half a loaf of "Ellie Mae" bread, as someone once referred to it. Presumably, Ellie Mae didn't know how to bake either. It looks like I consumed half of it, only the good Lord knows how, and I froze the rest, frugal as I am. I feed a lot of birds around here and much of my old bread goes into their suet feeders. Not today though, I'm keeping the brick to myself, as it's perfect for making a tasty soup with it.

Italian Tomato Bread Soup
Nothing like a good Italian tomato soup to bring a little bit of summer in your home. You'll need:

1 small onion
1 can of stewed tomatoes (preferably one with herbs, I use the ones with basil, oregano and garlic)
1 tbsp tomato paste
2 cubes of chicken tomato bouillon (or tomato vegetable bouillon if you'd like to make it vegetarian)
5 cups of boiling water
2 tsp italian herbs (or a mix of oregano, basil, thyme)
4 cloves of garlic
5 tbsp good quality olive oil
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan (or 3 tbsp of the dry cheese)
5 slices of old bread (no sourdough)

Cut and slice the onion, soften in a pan with the olive oil on medium heat. Add the garlic, sliced or chopped. After the onion has softened and the garlic starts releasing its yummy smell, drain the can of stewed tomatoes and stir. Bring to a boil, slowly. Dissolve the 2 cubes of tomato bouillon and the tomato paste in the 5 cups of boiling water, and add to the tomato mix in the pan. Add the italian herbs (usually sold pre-mixed as Italian Seasoning, or something along those lines), add salt and pepper to taste, turn down the heat and let it simmer.

In the meantime, break the bread in small pieces. You can use whole wheat, old rolls, whatever you can find in the freezer that you saved, just not sourdough. I used my Ellie Mae bread and its bricklike consistence made for a nice thick soup. Okay, now dump the bread in the pan and stir. When the bread has softened, bring out the almighty hand mixer or food processor and process the tomato/bread mix into a nice, thick soup. Check for consistency and add more bread if needed, taste to see if you want to add more salt/pepper/herbs.

Ladle into a nice bowl, put some parmesan cheese on top and pretend you're in Tuscany.... :-)

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