Italian Tomato and Bread Soup (Pappa Al Pomodoro) Recipe

This is a hearty soup recipe that has many different variations. This particular one uses bread as the thickener, which gives it an extra flavor and texture. The best part about this recipe is that you can literally make everything in your house from scratch with just a few ingredients to save money!

Pappa al Pomodoro is a traditional Italian soup with tomatoes, bread and herbs. Jamie Oliver’s recipe is simple to make and delicious.

Italian Tomato and Bread Soup (Pappa Al Pomodoro) Recipe

Let this Italian Tomato and Bread Soup take its place! San Marzano tomatoes, basil leaves, freshly sliced garlic, smooth olive oil swirls, and bread cubes provide a rich taste profile.


Deep, unadulterated sweet tomato taste with swirls of garlic and thick velvety olive oil, vibrant basil leaves, and, wait for it, your handsome crusty bread dips! Make room for pappa al pomodoro, or tomato and bread soup.

Pappa al pomodoro is a Tuscan dish that is particularly beloved and strongly defended in Florence and Siena. It literally translates to “tomato mush,” and the texture varies depending on where you get it and who makes it, ranging from more of a porridge to a somewhat thinner soup or stew consistency like the one we have here. But, in any case, it’s amazing yum yum yum yum yum yum yum yum happy Everything’s all of it.

Marika Contaldo Seguso is an Italian cookbook author whose original pappa al pomodoro recipe can be found in Milk Street.

This post has everything you’ll need to make tomato and bread soup.

For this soup, we’ll be using the following ingredients.

This tomato and bread soup always has a modest ingredient list, with each taste standing on its own. For this version, you’ll need the following:

  • San Marzano whole peeled tomatoes in a can
  • stale or dry bread
  • olive oil (extra virgin)
  • garlic
  • basil leaves
  • broth made with vegetables and chicken

Because there are so few elements, you really want to use high quality ingredients to reach peak flavor. San Marzanos are delicious, fruit, and less acidic than other tomatoes. You’ll want really good olive oil (extra virgin) both for the soup and for the silky drizzles on top for serving. basil leaves as opposed to dried here. And a good crusty white bread will do the trick.

Ingredients laid out for pappa al pomodoro

Let’s Make Pomodoro Pappa (Tomato and Bread Soup)

As previously said, this recipe is a touch thinner than a classic pappa al pomodoro, but if you want to thicken it up even more, alter the broth/bread ratio (or eliminate broth entirely and just use the tomatoes as the liquid) until it’s thick enough that your spoon stands up! In Italy, this might be the indication of a genuinely delicious pappa, depending on where you are. It’s also possible to thin it out if that’s more appealing! One cup of broth per ciabatta bread was generally our texture sweet spot.

This is how we went about it:

  1. Tomatoes. Crush with your hands in there!
  2. Garlic & Olive Oil. Sauté garlic in oil until fragrant and then add your crushed tomatoes and let simmer for a bit. Then add your broth & basil and keep simmering.
  3. Bread. Simmer the dry bread in the tomato/broth mixture until it is tender. Then, using a potato masher or a whisk, continue to break it down.
  4. Serve. We served this with extra olive oil drizzles, more basil leaves, and ok also some Parm, yum!

What Kind Of Bread Should I Use?

The origins of Italian tomato and bread soup may be traced back to a period when wasting even a stale piece of bread was considered the greatest imaginable crime (still seems accurate…we eat bread). So it’s usually cooked using stale Tuscan bread that’s been put out for many days. Tuscan bread is produced without salt (a practice that dates back to the 12th century when trade routes to Florence were shut off, making salt prohibitively costly!) and as a result, it becomes stale rapidly. As a result, this soup, as well as other delectable dishes like panzanella salad, was a method to transform stale bread into a dreamy dinner.

Traditionalists recommend a no-salt Tuscan bread, but that is difficult to come by outside of Tuscany, thus any crusty rustic white bread would suffice:

  • ciabatta ciabatta (we used the rolls, cut up and dried out)
  • boule
  • any kind of country bread
  • any other sourdough bread (Italian or French)

The drier your bread is, the better!

If you haven’t planned ahead and left your bread out (or just forgot about it and it went stale on its own! You go, girl! You may chop up your bread and bake it in the oven to dry it out (that’s not an oops, it’s a yes this time!).

  • Cut bread into slices/cubes or tear it up & spread on a sheet pan
  • 450°F oven for 5-7 minutes, stirring halfway through, until dry (not browned).

However, if you’re thinking on a Monday, “Man, I’d love some tomato bread soup on Wednesday,” slap that loaf on the counter and completely forget about it!

Olive oil being poured into tomato and bread soup

How to Choose the Best Soup Tomatoes

THIS IS YOUR MOMENT if you’ve got a surplus of sun-ripened summer tomatoes on your hands. All of that fresh, unadulterated, sweet tomato taste is precisely what you want for this, so don’t use any off-season, hothouse tomatoes.

If you’re using fresh tomatoes, follow these instructions:

  • Roma tomatoes are a good choice, but any ripe, sweet tomato would suffice.
  • They should peel easily if you score them with a knife and then put them in boiling water for a few minutes (tomato skins aren’t a nice soup texture surprise).

But, if you’re anything like us, you’ll crave this soup all year long, and happily, you can have it! Because of excellent canned or jarred tomatoes. Thank goodness for simplicity! That’s how we operate.

Some things to consider if you’re using canned tomatoes (like us! ):

  • Tomatoes from San Marzano are the best (very high quality, grown in Italy, lower acidity)
  • For the finest flavor and texture, use whole peeled tomatoes rather than chopped or crushed tomatoes.

Hand-crushing Tomatoes

You’ll want to smash those entire peeled tomatoes by hand, whether you’re using fresh or tinned tomatoes. Yes, it is correct. Enter the room. It not only provides a deliciously squashy sensory sensation, but it also provides the nicest texture. Several pieces of varied sizes, as well as a sufficient amount of delicate brilliant crimson liquid

When you buzz air into your tomatoes, they become orangish, so if you want to keep that hyper-fresh, brilliant red, wonderfully textured, fun-to-squeeze, chunky tomato deliciousness, don’t blend them. Friends, roll up your sleeves and go to work.

(Of course, you could smash them in a plastic baggie beforehand, but where’s the fun in that?)

This Tomato and Bread Soup Can Be Made in a Variety of Ways

Though adding anything other than basil, garlic, tomatoes, bread, and olive oil to this soup could earn you a side-eye from a Tuscan, particularly in the Florence and Siena areas, there are plenty of ways to experiment! We topped ours with Parmesan and it was excellent.

However, if you’re already breaching soup regulations, here are some alternatives:

  • a good sprinkling of crushed red peppers
  • carrots, onions, and celery, chopped
  • oregano
  • a smear of ricotta

Families in Tuscany could easily argue over pappa recipes all day. To onion or not to onion, broth or hot water, “how could you,” and so on…the list goes on and on! The simplicity of this recipe and its components, on the other hand, is what makes it shine, so don’t be afraid to leave her alone.

If you’re a rule-follower who doesn’t want to meddle with soup regulations, keep the soup basic and serve it with some other delicacies such as:

You’ve got alternatives! However, there are swizzles upon swizzles of thick olive oil, spicy shredded basil, and a deep tomato flavor that already tastes like bread dips. You’re completely prepared.

Simple, fresh, flavorful, and delectable. With this soup, you can’t go wrong.

Tomato and bread soup in a bowl with basil leaves and parmesan

Frequently Asked Questions about Italian Tomato and Bread Soup

How should I preserve or serve this soup’s leftovers?

This soup will keep in the fridge for one day as leftovers. It can still be eaten and savored without becoming too mushy. Make the tomato base and add the bread approximately 10 minutes before serving the soup if you’re sensitive to texture.

Is it better to use fresh or dried herbs in this soup?

If you can locate them in the shop, fresh is the way to go.

Is there a way to make this soup vegan?

If you want to use vegan Parmesan cheese, do so, and use vegetable broth.


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Let this Italian Tomato and Bread Soup take its place! San Marzano tomatoes, basil leaves, freshly sliced garlic, smooth olive oil swirls, and bread cubes provide a rich taste profile. 

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil (extra virgin)
  • 3 garlic cloves (smashed or finely sliced)
  • one complete peeled San Marzano tomato can (28 oz.)
  • 1 tsp. salt (kosher)
  • to taste freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 cups broth (vegetable or chicken)
  • 1/4 cup packed basil leaves, chopped or torn
  • 2–3 cups shredded or cubed dry bread (see notes)

  1. In a large saucepan over medium heat, heat the olive oil. Sauté for 1 minute after adding the garlic.
  2. Hand-crush tomatoes in a separate basin. Put them in the saucepan with the rest of the ingredients. Season with salt and pepper. Cook for approximately ten minutes, partially covered, over medium heat.
  3. Return to a simmer with the broth and basil for another ten minutes.
  4. Add the bread cubes and continue to cook for an additional 10 minutes, or until the bread is tender. You may further break down the bread using a potato masher to get the texture you want. 
  5. Serve with Parmesan cheese, extra olive oil, and more basil leaves! Simplicity and top notch ingredients… it’s just stunning.


I’ve been using ciabatta take-and-bake rolls for the bread since I seldom have a loaf of dry bread on hand! I toast them in the oven until they’re crisp and dry, then break them up into little pieces to add to the soup. 1 cup of broth per 1 roll is my rule of thumb. So four rolls equal four cups of soup, five rolls equal five cups of broth, and so on. Obviously, increasing the bread-to-broth ratio will thicken the soup, and vice versa! Make it exactly as you want it! ❤️

  • Time to Prepare: 10 minutes
  • 30 minutes to prepare
  • Soup is a category of food.
  • Stovetop method
  • Italian-inspired cuisine


This is an authentic Italian Tomato and Bread Soup Recipe. It’s a very simple soup with just tomatoes, bread, olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper. Reference: authentic italian tomato soup recipe.

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