“PAPPA AL POMODORO”: THE SOUP THAT ROCKS FLORENCEMin. reading
“Pappa al pomodoro” and “pane sciocco”: Florentine specialities combining history and taste
The “pane sciocco” , has made history in Florence!
It is just bread, the food that cannot be missing from an Italian family dinner table and is the basis of Mediterranean cuisine. The word “sciocco” in Florentine means without salt , and it is such an ancient tradition that we have to go back a few centuries to discover its origins. There are two main theories: around 1100 the great rivalry between Pisa and Florence resulted in the people from Pisa stopping salt supplies from the port to force the Florentines to surrender. Therefore Florence started producing bread without salt and this practice would be repeated over time until it became a tradition (they also say salt-free bread works best with the very tasty traditional dishes). The second reason is to do with taxes: medieval Florence financed itself with duties, but the tax on salt was so high that it led to the production of the “pane sciocco”.
In our organic restaurant in Florence, we prefer natural rising or sourdough bread. Why do we choose natural rising, stone-ground flour or flour made with ancient grains? Simply to eat healthily without giving up flavour!
Bread is a typical ingredient of the Florentine recipes. My grandmother Tina, an amazing cook, and an energetic and skilled housewife, would open her eyes as wide as a frog and raise her eyebrows to the sky whilst saying in an authoritative tone: “Throwing away bread is a deadly sin!” and after 4 or 5 days she would bring to the table a fragrant bread and tomato soup, the “Pappa al Pomodoro”.
There are just a few simple ingredients in it, that’s why they have to be chosen with care and to be of great quality. And maybe that’s why this recipe acquired in time a country-chic allure.
Authentic, easy and quick to prepare: here is how you make it!
Local sun-ripened tomatoes 1kg
Tuscan stale Sourdough bread 350gr
A fresh onion
4/5 garlic wedges
Plenty of basil
Vegetable broth (celery, carrot, onion) 1.3lt
Extra virgin olive oil 100gr
Whilst you are peeling tomatoes (this is extremely simple to do if you prick holes in them with a fork before boiling them for one minute) fry the diced garlic slowly, along with the onion and the basil including stalks (which you will take away after cooking), and then add the peeled tomatoes cut into small pieces. Slice the stale bread and heat the broth. After half an hour add the bread, broth, salt and freshly ground pepper to the sauce and continue cooking whilst whisking until the mixture becomes blended. Keep heating for a couple of minutes before turning off the heat and adding a handful of basil finely chopped.
To be served warm, lukewarm or cold, never too hot,
dressed with a good olive oil.
Traditionally, you wouldn’t add any Parmesan …but with a little bit of very fresh burrata on the top it becomes a real delicacy.
Try the recipe and, in order to be sure to do it the right way, book a Tuscan dinner in Florence at the Bistro Il Desco!