About this recipe:This much beloved soup allows me to avoid wasting the bread which often lingers in my breadbox. It is my own simplified version of the much more labourious "ribollita", a classic Tuscan bread soup.
400g stale bread
2 celery sticks
12 basil leaves
3 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon tomato puree
500ml chicken stock
grated Grana Padano or Parmigiano Reggiano
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Method Prep:15min › Cook:25min › Ready in:40min
Tear the bread with your hands. Cut the carrots and courgettes in thin slices, chop the celery and slice the onion thinly. Stack the basil leaves, roll up and slice in thin ribbons.
Soften the onions and celery in a deep frying pan with the olive oil and a generous pinch of salt. Add the carrots and courgettes and fry for about 10 minutes, they should be cooked but still crunchy. Adjust salt and pepper.
Add the bread to the vegetables and sauté for another 2-3 minutes. Mix in the tomato puree and add the stock. Bring to the boil and lower the heat to medium. Simmer 10-15 minutes longer, being mindful to stir often so that the bread does not stick to the bottom.
The bread will crumble and absorb the stock, yielding a dense and chunky soup. Serve hot, garnished with the basil, extra olive oil and the grated cheese.
Soup for all seasons
This dish can be made any time of year if you just change the produce and herbs with the seasons. The basics (carrots, onion and celery) will stay the same, but the courgette and basil make a perfect summer match. Fennel and marjoram can be used in spring, kale and parsley in winter, and pumpkin and sage in autumn.
Completing the meal
Add a soft poached egg to the soup and you can make a complete meal out of it.