|Homegrown chiltepin chiles with our ironwood chiltepin grinder, made by the Seri Indians|
An aside: Mark tells me that when he was living in Rome in the mid-70s, he was taught that you never ever have a glass of wine or alcohol without also having some food with it, bread at the very least. My converse rule is that you never ever have food without wine.
Happy Tomato Season!
Pappa al Pomodoro
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for serving
2 medium leeks, well washed
1/2 teaspoon crushed red chile flakes
2 pounds ripe plum tomatoes, preferably San Marzano
20 large basil leaves, divided
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup water
1/2 pound day-old bread, with crusts, cubed
basil sprigs, to garnish
Heat olive oil in 4-quart soup pot. Using only the white and light green parts, slice leeks in half lengthwise and then slice thinly into half rounds. Add leeks to the olive oil with the chile flakes. Cook over medium heat until leeks are soft, but not browned.
Meanwhile, cut tomatoes, lengthwise into quarters and remove the seeds. Dice the tomato quarters. When leeks are soft, add the diced tomatoes and half the basil leaves (whole) and sauté for 5 minutes, or until the tomatoes begin to break down and release their juices.
Add broth and water, and season with salt. Bring to a boil and then add bread cubes. Boil for 2 minutes then cover and remove from heat. Let sit for 45 minutes. Chop remaining basil and add before serving. Serve with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprig of basil.
This soup is good either hot or at room temperature.
Serves 4 as a hearty lunch or supper.