For this dish, the ripeness and flavor of the tomatoes is imperative. Therefore, make the soup when the tomatoes are abundant and ripe and at their best in late summer. This “zuppa” is delicious warm or served at room temperature on a hot summer day.
- 5 ½-inch slices Italian bread, crusts removed
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for the finished zuppa
- ½ cup finely diced onions
- 6 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
- 2 pounds ripe plum tomatoes, peeled, seeded and juice reserved
- 4 cups Chicken Stock
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 10 fresh basil leaves, washed and dried
Preheat the oven to 375 F. Arrange the bread slices on a baking sheet and toast until light golden brown, about 10 minutes. Remove and set aside.
In a deep, heavy 4- to 5-quart pot heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until wilted, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until golden, about 6 minutes.
Meanwhile, dice the tomatoes 1/2-inch. Add the tomatoes and their juice to the pot. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Add the toasted bread and stock to the pot and bring to a boil. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Add the basil leaves and adjust the level of heat to a simmer. Cook, uncovered, whisking occasionally to break up the pieces of bread, until the mixture is dense and silky, about 40 minutes.
If desired, remove garlic cloves and basil leaves. Season the soup to taste with salt and pepper. Serve in warm bowls, drizzled with extra virgin olive oil.