A classic and comforting Tuscan bread soup (Pappa al Pomodoro), easily made any time of year with canned or fresh tomatoes. With just a few simple ingredients, this soup is also a great pantry soup!

  • Ready to enjoy in just about 45 minutes.
  • A great use for stale bread!
  • This soup is economical to make and low in both calories and fat.
  • A hearty, filling and comforting soup to enjoy for lunch or dinner.
tomato bread soup in bowl

Ingredients and Substitutions

Canned Tomatoes – With so few ingredients in this soup, tomato quality is the key to success. You can never go wrong with whole canned San Marzano tomatoes. For a change or flavour, try whole Fire Roasted canned tomatoes. In a pinch, try crushed tomatoes (regular or Fire Roasted), for a soup with a smoother/thicker texture.

If you would like to try this with fresh tomatoes, dice up about 2 lbs. of ripe roma tomatoes. As canned tomatoes are generally peeled, you may want to peel the fresh tomatoes, as well. Reserve and use the juices, as well.

Bread – I’ve used a left-over end of a baguette that I wrapped and froze for this soup. 4 oz. works out to about a 6-inch length of a typical baguette. Any day-old or stale bread will work (white or whole wheat). You can leave the crusts on or cut them off, if you like. I like to leave them on, myself. For a slight change in flavour, try sourdough bread.

Broth – You can use either chicken or vegetable broth. In a pinch, you can just use water in place of the broth, though you may miss the extra bit of flavour in this simple soup. If you opt for water, make sure you season well with herbs, salt and pepper.

Basil – Fresh basil is the best in this soup, but if it isn’t available, go ahead and use dried basil. Use a generous amount to be sure to infuse the soup well with basil flavour.

Step-by-Step

  1. Toast the bread cubes in the oven until dried.
  2. Sauté the onion (or onion, celery and/or carrot), then add the garlic cloves.
  3. Add the canned tomatoes and mash.
  4. Add the toasted bread cubes.
  5. Add the chicken or vegetable broth.
  6. Add the basil leaves.
  7. Simmer for 25-30 minutes.
  8. Remove and discard the garlic cloves.
  9. Break up the bread pieces with a whisk.
tomato bread soup in bowl

Variations To Try

  • Substitute Fire-roasted tomatoes.
  • Roast the canned tomatoes yourself. Simply drain (and reserve!) the juice, then place the whole tomatoes into a baking dish and roast in a 350F oven for about 1 hour.
  • For a soup with a bit of heat built in, add some red pepper flakes with the sautéing onion mixture.
  • Use crushed tomatoes instead of whole, for a thicker, smoother soup.
  • Add a Parmesan rind to the simmering soup.
  • Add a bay leaf, a pinch of dried thyme, marjoram and/or oregano to the soup.
  • Try a sourdough bread, for a bit of tangy flavour.
  • Finish your soup with a teaspoon or two of balsamic vinegar.
tomato bread soup in bowl

Get the Recipe: Tuscan Tomato Bread Soup

A classic and comforting Tomato Bread Soup (Papa alla Pomodoro), easily made any time of year with canned tomatoes. A great use for stale bread, too!
5 stars from 1 rating
Prep Time: 15 mins
Cook Time: 30 mins
Total Time: 45 mins
Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 4 oz. bread, day-old, cubed
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, left whole, but smashed slightly
  • 1/4 cup onion, finely diced, (If using onion only use 1/2 cup)
  • 2 Tablespoons carrot, finely diced (can omit and use onion only)
  • 2 Tablespoons celery, finely diced (can omit and use onion only)
  • 1 Tablespoons tomato paste, optional
  • 28 oz whole canned Tomatoes, (796ml) with juices, San Marzano recommended
  • 4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 8 large fresh basil leaves, or 2-3 teaspoons dried basil
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1-2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar, optional

To serve:

  • Additional basil leaves, torn or chopped
  • Olive oil, for drizzle
  • Parmesan cheese, shaved or grated
  • Red pepper flakes

Instructions
 

  • Simmer 30-40 minutes. Remove and discard basil leaves and garlic pieces. Use a whisk to break up the bread. Taste and season!
  • Serve drizzled with olive oil, shavings of Parmesan and chopped basil (red pepper flakes?)
  • Preheat oven to 375F. Cut bread into cubes and scatter onto a baking sheet. Place into preheated oven until well dried and just starting to colour slightly, about 10 minutes. Remove and set aside.
  • Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onion, celery and carrot (or just onion) and cook, stirring, about 3 minutes. Add the smashed garlic cloves and continue cooking, stirring regularly, for about 3 minutes more. If using tomato paste, add now and cook, stirring, 30 seconds longer. Add the canned tomatoes, with their juices and use a potato masher to break up the whole tomatoes. Add the bread cubes, chicken broth and basil leaves. Stir to combine and season with a bit of salt and pepper.
  • Reduce heat to medium low and simmer soup gently, stirring occasionally, for 20-25 minutes.
  • Spoon out the garlic cloves and discard. You can also remove the basil leaves if you like, but I never mind them in the soup.
  • Use a whisk to stir the soup and break up the bread pieces. (This is optional. You can leave it chunky if you like. Likewise, if you want a smoother soup, you could use an immersion blender).
  • At the end of cooking, taste the soup and add more salt and pepper, as needed. Proper salting is key for this soup. If it tastes flat or seems like it "needs something", it's probably more salt it needs :) If you like, stir in a teaspoon or two of balsamic vinegar at the end of cooking, as well.
  • To serve, spoon soup into bowls. Drizzle with olive oil. Scatter torn or chopped fresh basil and shaved or shredded Parmesan to the top. Sprinkle with a few red pepper flakes, if you like.

Notes

Be sure to read the information above this Recipe Card, for information on substitutions (including how to make this soup with fresh tomatoes), as well as step-by-step photos that you might find helpful.
Variations:
  • Substitute canned Fire-roasted tomatoes, for a bit of smokey flavour.
  • Roast the canned tomatoes yourself. Simply drain (and reserve!) the juice, then place the whole tomatoes into a baking dish and roast in a 350F oven for about 1 hour.
  • For a soup with a bit of heat built in, add some red pepper flakes with the sautéing onion mixture.
  • Use crushed tomatoes instead of whole, for a thicker, smoother soup.
  • Add a Parmesan rind to the simmering soup.
  • Add a bay leaf, a pinch of dried thyme, marjoram and/or oregano to the soup.
  • Try a sourdough bread, for a bit of tangy flavour.
This soup holds up quite well made ahead and I find the flavours a little nicer after sitting a bit, so don’t hesitate to make in the morning and enjoy for dinner!
Cuisine: Italian
Course: Soup
Author: Jennifer
Serving: 1serving, Calories: 159kcal, Carbohydrates: 26g, Protein: 7g, Fat: 4g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 2g, Trans Fat: 0.01g, Cholesterol: 5mg, Sodium: 1331mg, Potassium: 558mg, Fiber: 4g, Sugar: 9g, Vitamin A: 1612IU, Vitamin C: 22mg, Calcium: 120mg, Iron: 3mg
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