The Kitchen Workshop: Kathleen Weber, author of Della Fattoria Bread

Mary Reilly of Edible Pioneer Valley spoke with Kathleen Weber, the founder of Della Fattoria Bakery in Petaluma, CA, about baking artisan breads at home. Kathleen generously shared her recipe for Tomato Bread Soup with us. Show off fresh summer tomatoes in this rustic recipe.

Buy Della Fattora Bread at your favorite local, independent bookseller

Recipes below the fold…

Tomato Bread Soup

Excerpted from Della Fattoria Bread, by Kathleen Weber (Artisan Books). Copyright © 2014. Photographs by Ed Anderson.

Serves 4 to 6

Tomato Bread Soup by Kathleen Weber, Photograph by Ed Anderson.

Tomato Bread Soup by Kathleen Weber, Photograph by Ed Anderson.

In the summer, when you have garden tomatoes coming out your ears, this is a soup to rely on. Being bakers, we, of course, always have a lot of bread on hand, so Tomato Bread Soup is one of our go-to meals. Traditionally it’s made with stale bread, but we toast the croutons, so you don’t need to have stale bread for this recipe. Still, the soup makes brilliant use of a loaf that is a day or two old.

Tomato Bread Soup smells great and looks beautiful, and the flavors are bright and refreshing. Using a combination of tomato varieties and colors makes the soup especially attractive. It’s best when at least some of the tomatoes are high-acid varieties, like Early Girl.

  • 2 pounds ripe tomatoes, preferably a mixture, including Early Girls
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • 1⁄3 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
  • 15 medium basil leaves, plus a few more for garnish (optional)
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • Kosher salt
  • 4 cups chicken broth or 3 cups broth plus 1 cup red wine
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Crouton Rags (recipe follows)
  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Blanch the tomatoes in the boiling water until the skins are starting to burst. Remove from the water and let sit until cool enough to handle. Meanwhile, blanch the garlic cloves in the boiling water until tender.
  1. Remove and discard the tomato skins. Halve the tomatoes and squeeze the juice and seeds into a bowl. Set the tomatoes aside. Strain the juice; discard the seeds.
  1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan or small pot over medium-high heat. The oil should be fairly hot—this is more of a stir-fry than a sauté. Add the tomatoes, garlic, basil, pepper flakes, and a generous pinch of salt and stir until the garlic has caramelized, about 6 minutes.
  1. Add the chicken broth, wine, if using, and reserved tomato juice and bring to a simmer. Cook until the liquid has reduced slightly and the raw taste of the tomatoes (and wine) has mellowed, about 10 minutes. Season to taste with pepper and additional salt. Add half the croutons to the soup, remove from the heat, and let stand for 10 minutes.
  1. Ladle the soup into wide bowls. Tear a little fresh basil over the top of each bowl, if using, drizzle with olive oil, and top with the remaining croutons.

Crouton Rags

Makes a generous 3 cups

I call these Crouton Rags because the bread is torn apart, giving them an appealing tattered texture. I think the croutons are best made with a Polenta Bâtard (page 219), but they’re also tasty made with a Pain de Campagne Bâtard (page 163). Don’t try to make all the croutons the same size—a range from 1 to 21/2 inches across is good. I keep them on the smaller side to use in the Della Panzanella (page 227) or make them slightly larger for the Tomato Bread Soup. Tear the bread into pieces a bit bigger than you want the crouton to be; they shrink up a bit when toasted.

  • Half a large or 1 medium Polenta Bâtard (page 219), preferably day-old, but fresh is fine
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  1. Use your fingers to tear out irregular tufts of bread.
  1. Heat a generous film of olive oil in a large skillet over medium to medium-high heat. Add a generous pinch of salt and pepper to it, then add the bread in a single layer (toasting in batches if needed). Cook, tossing or stirring the croutons occasionally and adjusting the heat to keep them from getting too dark, until they have a nice golden color, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and drain on paper towels.
  1. The croutons are best the day they are made.


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