You say tomato....

My good friend and first and forever mentor, Joanne Weir, wrote a wonderful cookbook called "You say tomato".
It should be a bible and kitchen go-to reference for recipes celebrating one of life's finest vegetables, I mean fruits, the TOMATO. {}
The tomato is one of the earth's most delicious, versatile, easy and accessible ingredients we can enjoy, both as cook and as hungry and appreciative eater.

Many farmer's have now recognized and resurrected the hierloom varieties, resulting in a delicious selection of colors, flavors, size and textures of tomatoes. There are green zebras, yellow pear, black krim, brandywine to name a few. Sliced and diced, chopped and quartered, they make a vibrant display of colors, like a still life with still-drying paint. I have no guilt when spending what seems like a small fortune on these juicy gems. They are only here for a short while and I want to get my fill until next year. In winter, I open jars of preserved vine-ripened tomatoes that have been transformed into a delicious passata, "passed" in italian, the perfect condiment to liven any dish and flavor away the winter doldrums.

On saturday, our local farmer's market was testament that I am not the only one in love with tomatoes. A line was quickly forming around the only vendor selling tomatoes, thanks to a new green house growing method. They were mis-shapen and bolden red, their green lapels laying lazily at the top. Savvy shoppers and artful eaters alike stood for what seemed like a lifetime to fill out market baskets with tomatoes. Fresh basil bunches were nestled nearby, a perfect pairing for a lunchtime meal.

Pappa al Pomodoro, Tomato Bread Soup

This is an updated version of the traditional Tuscan bread and tomato soup. I like to use toasted squares of herbed foccacia bread instead of the traditional stale bread for a bit more texture to the soup. A light and fresh summer soup, this recipe can be made in just 20 minutes.
Perfect for a lazy Sunday afternoon pranzo meal.


3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil, plus 1 Tablespoon for garnish
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh garlic
4 cups Vine-ripe red hierloom tomatoes
1 cup toasted focaccia croutons
4 cups chicken stock or broth
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
fresh basil leaves

In a 4 quart saucepan, heat 3 tablespoons olive oil and sauté garlic over medium heat for one minute. Add the tomatoes and saute for about 15 minutes, or until the tomatoes become soft. Add the stock, salt and pepper and simmer for 15-20 minutes, or until the soup begins to thicken. Add the croutons and cook for about 5minutes, until they soften lightly. Serve in soup bowls and top with fresh basil leaves and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

Serves 6 as a first course or 4 as a lunch main course.

Buon Appetito!

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