Somewhere between a soup and a stew, pappa al pomodoro is quintessential Italian peasant food, quick to make and requiring few ingredients. Putting burrata—a fresh mozzarella-style cheese filled with cream—on top is a very luxurious addition.
From “The Jewels of Summer,” July/August 2019
3 pounds ripe red tomatoes
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
3 large leeks, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced (about 4 cups sliced)
Kosher salt, to taste
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 ounces crustless country-style bread, cut into 1-inch cubes (about 3½ cups)
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
3 balls burrata (optional)
Flaky salt, such as Maldon, for garnish
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Fill a large bowl with ice and water and set nearby. Remove stems from the tomatoes and, with a sharp knife, cut a shallow “x” into the bottom of each tomato. Drop the tomatoes into the boiling water and cook for 30 seconds, until the skins begin to split. With a slotted spoon, transfer to them to the ice bath. When cool enough to handle, peel the tomatoes, then halve them and pass them through the fine plate of a food mill.
In a 4- or 5-quart saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the leeks and a generous pinch of salt and cook, stirring, until leeks are translucent but not browned, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute more. Pour in the tomato puree, reduce heat so the mixture is simmering gently, and cook, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes. Stir in the bread and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until the bread breaks down and thickens the soup, about 15 minutes more. The texture should be like a thick porridge; if it’s too thick, thin with a bit of hot water.
Season to taste with additional salt and pepper. Spoon into warmed bowls. Halve the burrata balls, if using, and place a piece on top of each serving. Drizzle with a bit of olive oil, sprinkle with flaky salt, and serve immediately.