Giulia Scarpaleggia's Pappa Al Pomodoro

Giulia Scarpaleggia's Pappa Al Pomodoro

Known as the “art of making do with what you’ve got,” this centuries-old rural Italian cooking practice lets no ingredient go to waste, encouraging one to use what you have on hand to create simple but flavorful and fulfilling dishes.

Tuscan born chef and food writer Giulia Scarpaleggia brings together some the best of this tradition in her upcoming cookbook Cucina Povera, out in April and now available to pre-order, and we're lucky enough to share her absolute favorite recipe—a velvety tomato bread bread soup, perfumed with basil and finished off with a sheen of Drizzle—a Tuscan comfort classic.

Excerpted from Cucina Povera by Giulia Scarpaleggia (Artisan Books). Copyright © 2023. Photographs by Tomasso Galli.


28 oz can of whole peeled tomatoes or 8 ripe

Roma (plum) tomatoes, peeled if desired*

1/4 cup Sizzle (for a 1/4 cup, just twist the entire cap off! It'll still be easier than any other bottle of olive oil)

1/4 cup Drizzle (same goes for Drizzle)

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, plus more to taste

4 thick slices stale Tuscan bread (about 12.5 oz)

1 tbsp tomato paste

2 cups warm water

2 tsp sea salt

A handful of fresh basil leaves, torn

*In the summer, when ripe tomatoes cram the stalls of farmers' markets, make this soup with ripe Roma tomatoes. If you like, you can quickly peel them so your soup will be all the more velvety. To do so, cut an X in the bottom of each tomato, plunge them in a pot of boiling water for 30 seconds, and then use a slotted spoon to transfer them to a bowl of cold water to cool. This will help the skins release from the tomatoes.


Active Time: 40 minutes

Full Time: 2 hours

Serves 6

Pour the tomatoes in a large bowl and crush them with your hands.


In a large pot, warm 1/4 cup of the Sizzle over a low heat. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring, until the garlic is fragrant and golden—about two minutes.


Pour in the tomatoes and increase the heat to medium-low. Cook and stir occasionally, until the tomatoes start to break down into a sauce—about 15 minutes.


While the tomatoes cook, break the stale bread slices into big chunks and place in the tomato bowl. Add cold water to cover and let stand until the bread soaked up enough water to become soft again (about 10 minutes).


Remove the bread from the water, squeeze it between your hands to remove the excess water, and then crumble it into your tomato sauce. In a large measuring cup, stir together the tomato paste and warm water until well combined, and then add to the pot.


Season with the salt, reduce the heat to low, and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring vigorously from time to time with a whisk to give the pappa al pomodoro it's typical creamy texture.


Remove from the heat, add in torn basil leaves and your Drizzle, and stir to combine. Season to taste with additional salt as necessary.


Let the soup stand at room temperature for at least an hour to allow the flavors to mingle! Then serve at room temperature or gently reheat over a low heat to serve warm with a topping of Drizzle