Tomato Bread Soup

Tomato Bread Soup

Makes 4 Servings

1 lb country style bread
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus olive oil for garnish
2 small cloves garlic, thinly sliced
7 cups ripe plum or beefsteak tomatoes, seeded and chopped (about 7 cups)
1 fresh sage leaf, minced (1/2 teaspoon dried)
1/2 teaspoon minced fresh basil
salt and freshly ground pepper
3/4 cups vegetable stock (Swanson makes a good one - in the canned soup area)
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar

Trim the crusts from the bread and cut the bread into 1" cubes; you should have about 1/2 lb. Place in a single layer on a tray and let dry overnight.

In a deep soup pot or stockpot, warm the olive oil. Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant but not brown, about 1 minute. Add the bread and sauté for 2 minutes; do not allow to brown. Add the tomatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, until they begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the sage and basil and season to taste with salt and pepper.

As the bread absorbs the tomatoes, add some of the stock as needed to keep the mixture soupy. At the same time, use a spoon to mash the bread so the soup is thick and the bread blends into the tomato sauce.

Cook the soup, stirring occasionally to prevent burning, until thickened and no chunks of bread remain, 30-40 minutes. Remove from the heat and let rest for 30-60 minutes to allow the flavors to blend. Return the pot to low heat and stir in the vinegar. Bring to a simmer and simmer until the sharp fumes of the vinegar have evaporated, about 1 minute. Taste and adjust any seasonings. Ladle into warmed bowl and lightly drizzle olive oil on top.

Source: Bob Bowersox, QVC website, 1996