Zuppa di Pomodoro~

It’s the time of year when the garden starts churning out tomatoes faster than one can seemingly use them. You’ve made the classic American tomato sandwiches with mayo and the BLTs, the Italian classic bruschetta of chopped tomatoes served on grilled bread rubbed with fresh garlic, a Caprese salad of juicy tomatoes, sliced mozzarella and fresh basil, and you’ve even given the neighbors their fill too.

What’s next?

Drizzled with cream, this simple Italian soup takes advantage of the abundance of garden fresh tomatoes in late summer. In Italian, “zuppa” indicates a creamy-textured soup, but here the cream is only an optional garnish, if keeping it strictly Italian. Once cooked down and pureed, the tomatoes provide a naturally creamy, thick texture all their own.

Italian Tomato Soup
“Zuppa di Pomodoro”

(Makes 2 to 3 servings. Recipe may be easily doubled to serve 4 to 6.)

4 cups peeled, deseeded, and chopped garden fresh tomatoes (*See note about peeling fresh tomatoes) (**Also, 1 28-oz can of imported Italian plum tomatoes, like San Marzano tomatoes, with their juice, put through a food mill to remove the seeds, may be substituted for fresh tomatoes)

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 large garlic cloves, minced

2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf Italian parsley

1 stalk fresh basil, about 10 large leaves

1 teaspoon Kosher salt, to taste

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1 cup chicken broth, preferably homemade, or canned, low-sodium stock may be substituted

1/2 cup whipping cream (used as garnish if making it truly Italian; added into the soup if serving American-style. See note at end of recipe.)

Garnish: Fresh basil leaves


*Italians are not big fans of tomato skins and tomato seeds. They believe they make a dish bitter. If you have a food mill, remove the stem and core your garden tomatoes, cut in half, and put them through the mill, discarding the skin and seeds. If you don’t have a food mill, as I don’t, you can make quick work of peeling and deseeding tomatoes with the following steps:

Bring a pot of water to a boil. Meanwhile ~ [1] Cut a shallow “X” on the bottom of each tomato. Once the water is boiling, prepare a cold water bath by putting some ice in a large bowl, adding cold water to it. Set aside. [2] Working in batches, place 3 or 4 tomatoes at a time into the boiling water. Blanch for 15 seconds ONLY … 30 secs max! (You DO NOT want to cook the tomatoes.) [3] Using a spider or slotted spoon, remove the tomatoes from the boiling water and plunge directly into the ice bath. *When you place the next set of tomatoes into the boiling water, remove the ice bath tomatoes to a cloth towel to drain. Repeat steps 2 & 3, until all of the tomatoes are done.

[4] The quick blanch will have released the skin from the flesh. [5] Using a paring knife, remove the skins and discard. [6] To deseed, cut the stem end off and discard. If using plum tomatoes, as in the photo, cut the tomatoes lengthwise and scoop out the seeds and the “gel” around them, discarding both. If using round tomatoes, core out the stem end, and cut crosswise to reveal the seed cavities. Using your pinky finger or the handle of a spoon, scoop out the seeds and “gel,” discarding both.

[7] Roughly chop the peeled & deseeded tomatoes into 1″-2″ chunks. *Note~ I had a variety of tomatoes from the garden on hand: plum, yellow and red round. Heirloom tomato varieties are delicious too. Use all one variety or mix and match!

Now you are ready to make some Zuppa di Pomodoro~

Soup Preparation:

Heat the oil in a medium-sized soup pot over medium-high heat. [1] Add the garlic and parsley, and cook, stirring, until the garlic begins to color, about one minute. [2] Add the tomatoes, bring to a gentle boil. [3] Add the basil, salt and pepper, stirring to combine. [4] Cover the pot, leaving the lid slightly askew, reduce the heat to low, simmer 20-25 minutes, until the tomatoes have somewhat broken down.

[5] Remove the stalk of basil. [6] Stir in the chicken broth. [7] Using an immersion blender in the pot, puree the tomato mixture until smooth. ([8] Or puree the mixture in a food processor, in batches if necessary. Let the mixture slightly cool before processing, since steam can cause a huge, hot mess of a disaster if it doesn’t have a way to escape during processing. If using a blender, remove the plug in the lid and cover the lid with a towel. Once smooth, return soup to pot.) Taste mixture, adjust salt and pepper to taste.

Continue to simmer the soup over low heat, slightly covered, until it has a medium-thick consistency, another 20-25 minutes. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Zuppa di Pomodoro

[9] To serve in the Italian-style, ladle soup into bowls and garnish with a drizzle of whipping cream and a couple of basil leaves. [10] To serve in a more American-style, mix all of the cream into the soup pot before ladling into the bowls. Garnish with fresh basil leaves.

Note: This soup will keep a couple of days in a sealed container in the fridge. It will keep two to three months (*) in a sealed container in the freezer — perfect for when you desire the taste of garden tomatoes in chilly autumn weather. (*Do not add the cream if freezing. Add the cream after thawing, during the reheating.)

Buon Appetito~ 


About the Author

Mark LeslieMark Leslie, seen cooking on NBC’s "The Today Show" and Hallmark Channel's "Home & Family," loves to cook for anyone with an appetite, vacations in Italy every year, and lives to eat his way through every plate of pasta and cone of gelato placed before him. His first book, “Beyond the Pasta: Recipes, Language & Life with an Italian Family,” tells of his life in Italy while cooking with an Italian grandmother. He shares his food experiences on his blog at www.beyondthepasta.com and has taught cooking classes in California, Georgia, Minnesota, Texas, and across Alabama. While judging for high school culinary events, he was chosen by the US Department of Education to judge for their "National Education Startup Challenge." Mark can be regularly seen cooking on NBC-affiliate, WSFA-TV 12's "Alabama Live! each Friday, bringing easy, locally sourced recipes to central Alabama. His iTunes app “Beyond the Pasta” features helpful videos and more of Nonna’s family-style recipes that she shared with him, plus, upon its release, it was named “New & Noteworthy” by Apple. DaVinci Wines chose Mark as their "2012 Storyteller" in Language Arts—where they sent him to Vinci, Italy, to write about wine, food and life. Mark, his home and book have been featured in such national publications and blogs as House Beautiful, Paula Deen, Food Republic, The Kitchn, Apartment Therapy, Field & Stream, and The Daily Meal. A Chicago-area native and “Yankee” by birth, Mark has lived in Alabama for over 24 years, and celebrates the fact that he started life eating farina, progressed to grits, and finally arrived at polenta. Buonissimo!View all posts by Mark Leslie →

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