Recipe by Chicagoland Chef du Jour
This is a classic Italian tomato soup that uses ciabatta bread to thicken it. Unlike other recipes posted here, this soup is made with red wine & fennel, then at serving it is topped with pancetta and whole crispy basil leaves. The flavor is amazing! The recipe comes from the chef of a cooking class I had the pleasure to take. I am not sure what cookbook this may have come from. 4/12 Correction: recipe of Ina Garten (thanks Jekase!)
- 1⁄2 cup olive oil
- 2 cups chopped yellow onions or 2 chopped yellow onions
- 1 medium-diced carrot, scrubbed, unpeeled, I peel and dice
- 1 fennel bulbs, trimmed, cored and medium dice or 1 1⁄2 cups fennel bulbs
- 4 teaspoons garlic cloves, minced or 4 garlic cloves
- 3 cups ciabatta, 1-inch dice, crust removed, I do not remove the crusts
- 2 (28 ounce) canssan marzano canned tomatoes
- 4 cups chicken stock
- 1⁄2 cup dry red wine
- 1 cup fresh basil leaf, chopped, if using dried, I have used dried about 3 Tablespoons I felt the dried equivalent of 1/3 C
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt, to taste
- 1 1⁄2 teaspoons pepper, to taste
- 1⁄2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
- 1 inch diced ciabatta, 3-5 cubes per bowl, approx. 5 slices
- 2 ounces pancetta, small dice, I brow up 4 ounces
- 12 basil leaves, can omit
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
Directions See How It's Made
- Heat the oil in a large stock pot over medium heat. Add the onions, carrots, fennel, and garlic. Cook over medium-low heat for 10 minutes, until tender.
- Add the ciabatta cubes and cook for 5 more minutes.
- Place the tomatoes in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade and process until coarsely chopped. Add the tomatoes to the pot along with the chicken stock, red wine, basil, 1 T salt, and 1 1/2 t pepper.
- Bring the soup to a boil, lower the heat and allow to simmer, partially covered for 45 minutes.
- MEANWHILE: Preheat oven to 375°F.
- In a large bowl, put the reserved ciabatta bread cubes, pancetta and whole basil leaves in the bowl and drizzle with olive oil. Toss to coat.
- On a lined sheet pan large enough for all ingredients, place the ingredients in a single layer, Be sure the basil leaves are flat. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- Bake until the cubes are toasted, pancetta crispy and basil leaves turn dark & crisp. This may take 15-20 minutes.
- Check on your soup. If the soup is too lumpy for you you can smash with a wooden spoon, potato masher or use a submersion blender to break up the bread cubes. Alternately you can puree in batches in a food processor or blender. Blend to desired consistency. I prefer a more rustic presentation.
- *Take care to only fill the blender or food processor 1/3 when you puree HOT soup.
- Turn up the heat to rewarm if necessary. At this point check for seasoning. Add more salt and pepper as needed.
- Stir in parmesan cheese, top with basil leaf, pancetta and bread cubes.
- Freezes well.