Tuscan Roads and Pappa col Pomodoro Soup

Attending cooking classes is one of my favourite things to do, so it’s without question that I will take any opportunity I have to attend classes while I’m travelling. I think it is a great way to broaden your knowledge and taste buds  but ultimately it opens your eyes to a very important aspect of culture –food.

A few years ago, my family travelled to Siena, Italy and naturally we placed a cooking class at the top of our “must-do list”. My dad, who is like a fish out of water in the kitchen felt that he was more useful strolling the streets of Siena, so my brother, mum and I left him to do just that, rolled up our sleeves and tied on our aprons, ready to cook up some excellent Italian dishes.

My ridiculously organized mother had organized a class in advance at SCUOLA DI CUCINA DI LELLA and since Lella, the chef-genius speaks very little English, we had a translator there as well to help us through our class. We covered all sorts of foods such as hand-rolled pasta, bruschetta, pesto and cantuccini biscuits. All of it was nothing short of spectacular.

Now the other day, while I was racking my brain for dinner ideas, I started daydreaming about Tuscany which led me to fantasize about some of the dishes that Lella had taught us during our class. Needless to say, I decided it was time to whip out the recipes that she had so graciously shared with us. And then it came to me. My family was in dire need of a mouth-watering bowl of pappa col pomodoro (bread and tomato soup)! And off I went to the kitchen again!

Pappa col pomodoro is a popular soup from the Tuscan area, and rightfully so! It’s known as the poor people’s culinary tradition as it makes use of stale bread and tomatoes which grow so abundantly in the area. Poor, rich, whatever your story, this soup fills a belly, so there are no complaints here.

Pappa Col Pomodoro Recipe

600g of skinned tomatoes (or non-seasoned canned)
300g of stale Italian multi-grain bread
8 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
500 ml of low sodium broth (chicken or vegetable)
1 cup fresh basil
4-5 cloves garlic
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat the garlic and basil in the oil on low-medium heat. Cut the bread in thin slices and put in the pan, stirring continuously until the bread has absorbed the flavor of the garlic, but not burning. Add the tomatoes and a generous amount of slat and pepper. Add broth and leave to simmer, covered. Once cooked, pass the soup through a blender or vegetable mill. Serve in a bowl with a leaf of basil. Feeds 4-6 people.

Are you into cooking classes? What favourite dish have you learned?  Any cooking schools you recommend?  Come on, spill the beans!

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