Pappa al Pomodoro Soup is a simple and utterly delicious traditional Tuscan soup thickened with bread and seasoned with basil and olive oil. It is a great warming meal to enjoy for lunch or dinner.

black bowl with thick tomato soup, garnished with basil sprigs and silver spoon

I originally shared this recipe on September 2nd, 2013. I have updated the post to share it with you again today.

Why I Love This Recipe For Pappa al Pomodoro Soup

I fell in love with Pappa al Pomodoro during the five months I studied abroad in Italy, and let’s just say, I’ve never been the same. Since then, Pappa al Pomodoro soup has become the ultimate comfort soup in my life, so I’ve worked hard to perfect my own version that closely replicates that dreamy Italian day when it first passed my lips.

This Italian tomato bread soup is simple in preparation, with excellent quality olive oil, fruity tomatoes and fresh basil. It’s thickened with unsalted Tuscan bread, transforming basic ingredients into sublime velvet. This soup captures the essence of Italian cooking in the sense that it requires high-quality ingredients but is completely simple in preparation.

This soup is delectable year-round but it’s especially wonderful when tomatoes are at their most irresistible. As incredible as fresh seasonal tomatoes are, the bread is really the star of the show! I don’t think most people have considered using stale bread to make soup, but the ingredient is pretty commonly used in Italian dishes like Panzanella and Ribollita, which I adore. If you like today’s dish, you have try check out those recipes too!

Now, get to cooking, and when you taste this soup and have a religious experience I’ll be here to say “I told you so!”

Key Ingredients

Stale Bread

Your bread needs to be cubed, stale, and firm Italian or sourdough bread (no crusts). But don’t worry if your bread isn’t stale yet! You can cube your bread and toast it for 10 mins at 325 degrees F to dry it out. 


Use 15 plum tomatoes for this recipe, peeled, seeded, and coarsley chopped. Plum tomoatoes are perfect for this kind of recipe because they’re more firm and less juicy than other tomatoes. As they cook and break down, there’s less liquid to evaporate into the sauce and the soup can retain its thickness better.

How to Peel and Seed Tomatoes

  1. Remove the stem and core from the tomatoes.
  2. Score the bottom of the tomatoes with an “X.”
  3. Prepare a simmering pot of water beside a bowl filled with ice and water.
  4. Drop tomoatoes (one at a time, and in batches of four) into simmering water, and once the skin begins to soften and peel away from the tomato use a slotted spoon to transfer it to the ice bath.
  5. Once sufficiently cooled in the ice bath, peel the tomatoes with a paring knife.
  6. Cut the tomatoes along the equator to reveal the seed chambers.
  7. Set a seive over a large bowl as you squeeze (and pry) out the seeds.
  8. Finally, dice your tomatoes.

Check out my post on how to peel and seed tomatoes to learn about the process more in depth.


Store-bought or homemade chicken broth would work fine. Or, you can go the vegetarian route and use vegetable broth. If you want your soup to be thicker, add only two cups of broth and stir more often to make sure the bread doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan and burn.

Additional Ingredients

  • Extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • Garlic
  • Sweet onion, diced
  • Salt
  • Dry thyme
  • Ground pepper
  • Tomato paste
  • Basil

How To Make This Italian Tomato & Bread Soup

sauteing the veggies then add tomatoes and broth

Step 1: Heat Pot and Onion

Heat olive oil in a large heavy-bottomed soup pot, and then add your garlic, onion, salt, thyme, and pepper. Cook, stirring often until the onion is browning and softened, which should take 7 to 8 minutes.

Step 2: Add Tomatoes and Bread

Add the tomatoes, the whole basil sprigs, broth, and tomato paste to the pot and bring the mixture to a simmer, stirring often. Add the stale bread and continue simmering until the tomatoes and bread are broken down and the soup is very thick, which should take about 25 minutes.

mashing the soup

Step 3: Mash and Serve

Remove the pot from the heat and discard the basil sprigs. Mash the soup with a potato mashed to break up any remaining pieces of bread, and then stir in the chopped basil. Serve your soup garnished with more olive oil.

FAQs and Expert Tips

How do you peel and seed tomatoes?

You can peel and seed tomatoes through the process of blanching them in a simmering pot of water followed by an ice bath, and then peeling them with a knife. You can squeeze the seeds out over a bowl, and use your fingers to get the ones that are stuck inside.

What can I do with leftover stale bread?

If you have stale bread, you can make many things like croutons, bread pudding, or fresh breadcrumbs, but I’m partial to using it to thicken soup. It gives soup such a rich and velvety texture that you don’t want to miss.

More Healthy Soup Recipes To Try

At Healthy Seasonal Recipes, we specialize in cooking with fresh veggies and creating weeknight meals. Sign up HERE to get more produce-forward dinner ideas for FREE! If you make this recipe, please come back and leave a star rating and review. I would love to hear what you thought! Happy Cooking! ~Katie

clock clock iconcutlery cutlery iconflag flag iconfolder folder iconinstagram instagram iconpinterest pinterest iconfacebook facebook iconprint print iconsquares squares iconheart heart iconheart solid heart solid icon
pappa al pomodoro italian tomato bread soup in a bowl

Pappa al Pomodoro {Italian Tomato Bread Soup}

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star

5 from 5 reviews

  • Author: Katie Webster
  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: 6 servings; 8 3/4 cups 1x


Simple Italian Tomato Soup thickened with bread seasoned with basil and olive oil.


  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 large sweet onion, diced
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon salt plus more to taste
  • 1 teaspoon dry thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 15 plum tomatoes, peeled, seeded and coarsely chopped, juices reserved (about 3 1/4 pounds before prepping)
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 2 sprigs basil, plus 1/2 cup chopped basil, divided
  • 3 cups vegetable or chicken broth *see note
  • 5 oz cubed stale firm Italian or sourdough bread (no crusts), about 4 cups *see note


  1. Heat olive oil in a large heavy-bottomed soup pot. Add garlic, onion, salt, thyme and pepper and cook, stirring often until the onion is browning and softened, 7 to 8 minutes.
  2. Add tomatoes, whole basil sprigs, broth and tomato paste and bring to a simmer, stirring often. Add bread, and simmer until the tomatoes and bread are broken down and the soup is very thick, about 25 minutes. 
  3. Remove from the heat. Discard basil sprigs. Mash the soup with a potato masher to break up any remaining pieces of bread. Stir in chopped basil. Serve garnished with more olive oil.


Broth: For thicker soup, add only 2 cups broth. Make sure to stir the soup often as it simmers as the bread will stick to the bottom of the pot and can burn.

Bread: If your bread is not stale, you can cube it and toast it for 10 mins at 325 degrees F to dry it out. 

  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Active Time: 35 minutes
  • Cook Time: 33
  • Category: Soup
  • Method: Stove top
  • Cuisine: Italian


  • Serving Size: 1 1/2 cup
  • Calories: 242
  • Fat: 10 g
  • Carbohydrates: 32 g
  • Fiber: 5 g
  • Protein: 6 g