When you have left over crusty bread there are a number of things which you could do with it. Making breadcrumbs is one and even making it into eggy bread, the Italians make various versions of soup, there are some tomato based ones and others which have stock ingredients such as onion, carrots, celery etc. Having researched the recipes it seems evident that they are open to re-interpretation and in my case matching it to what I had in my cupboard.
So my version of Italian bread soup uses mostly cupboard ingredients although feel free to use fresh tomatoes (roughly 750g of ripe cherry tomatoes) use any kind of crusty loaf but not pre-cut sandwich loaves they will not work.
300g of crusty bread (a couple of days old so a bit stale)
200g of chunky chopped bacon (optional you could use tofu if you preferred)
2 x 400g tins of chopped or plum tomatoes
Half a medium sized green pepper finely chopped
1 tsp of garlic powder or 2 cloves of fresh
1 Handful of green beans trimmed.
1 x vegetable or chicken stock pot
3 x blocks of frozen spinach or about half a bag of fresh
1 tbsp of mixed Italian herbs or 1 large bunch of fresh basil (if available)
Extra virgin olive oil
- Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large heavy pan on a medium heat and add the fresh garlic if using.
- Add the 2 tins of tomatoes along with the stock pot and bring to the boil.
- Add the garlic powder (if using) peppers, beans and herbs (basil leaves ripped and stalks sliced) continuing to cook on a medium heat.
- In a small frying pan fry the bacon until crispy or if using tofu heat a small amount of oil and brown on each side.
- Add the chopped bread to the frying pan with another slug of oil and turn over until they start to crisp around the edges.
- Your tomato base should be reducing nicely and thickening up by now so you can add the bread mix to it and stir it in – don’t be afraid to add some water to adjust the thickness.
- Add your spinach now and allow to defrost or wilt as necessary.
- At this point you could serve or put it in the slow cooker for later on (I would suggest not longer than 3 hours though). If you are using the slow cooker/crock pot add about a cup of water
Let me know your thoughts on the recipe – if you have your own recipe for this I would love to hear from you too!