Pappa Al Pomodoro {Italian Bread Soup}

As an Amazon Affilate, I earn commission on qualifying purchases.

Until our recent trip to Tuscany, I’ll admit I’d never tasted pappa al pomodoro. But this Italian bread soup is on nearly every menu in Florence. My daughter, who was studying in Florence, could not wait to introduce us to this classic Tuscan dish.

Pappa al pomodoro in small terrine.

Of all the dishes she had in Italy, she says pappa al pomodoro is one of her favorites. We had to have a bowl at every restaurant we dined. When she came back, it was our mission to recreate the soup she fell in love with. Fortunately, she also took a three week cooking class as part of her curriculum, and brought back all the recipes. (As an Amazon Affiliate, I earn commission on qualifying purchases.)

papa al pomodoro top shot yellow napkin.

What is Pappa al Pomodoro?

Pappa al pomodoro is a thick tomato and bread soup typically found in Tuscany. The consistency is quite thick, more akin to a porridge. While it’s usually served in a bowl, it’s thick enough to be served on a plate! This soup is a year-round appetizer, or “primo” (first course) in Tuscany. It is served hot, warm, room temperature, or chilled depending on the season. This recipe for pappa al pomodoro comes from the Florence University of the Arts’ culinary program. I have adapted the recipe, instructions, and measurements for the American kitchen.

Pappa al pomodoro horizontal on yellow napkin.

A note about Tuscan bread

One of the main ingredients is of course, bread; stale bread. But it’s almost impossible to find authentic Tuscan bread in the US unless you make it yourself. Traditional Tuscan bread is unique in that it does not have salt. Not a speck. I’ve got to admit, it’s pretty bland on it’s own, but almost no one eats it that way. With salty cheese or salumi, dipped in oil, or in this recipe, it’s just perfect. Pappa al pomodoro is vegetarian and budget friendly. This was a great way to use up any leftover or stale bread. The Italians refer to this type of dish as “cucina povera”. (Read more about “Cucina Povera” here.)

What are the ingredients in Pappa al Pomodoro?

pappa al pomodoro ingredients.
  • Tuscan bread: For the bread, a rustic or artisan loaf is a good option. A sandwich loaf won’t have the same body and is too soft for this recipe. Once again, as with many seemingly simple recipes, get the best quality ingredients you can find. If you want to make your own artisan loaf, just omit the salt from this bread recipe. The bread should be stale, or a few days old. If you don’t have stale bread, simple dry it out in the oven for a few minutes.
  • Tomatoes: In the summer fresh tomatoes can be used, this recipe uses canned, San Marzano DOP tomatoes. In researching other recipes, I found some use sugar. That’s because a lot of inferior canned tomatoes are highly acidic. Using a superior quality canned tomato like San Marzano DOP means you don’t have to “sweeten” the recipe.
san marzano dop tomatoes.
  • Fresh basil: Please use fresh basil, dried just won’t do.
  • Olive oil: you’ll need some for cooking and some for drizzling. I have several bottles in my pantry depending on the use. I use a higher quality for vinaigrettes and drizzling.
  • Garlic: a note on garlic; as with all recipes, the components should be perfectly balanced and harmonious. We all love garlic, but “more” isn’t necessarily “better”.
  • Onion. Some recipes call for a sofrito, or onion, carrot and celery mixture, the original recipe does not use an onion, but I used a small one for extra flavor. (omit it if you choose)
  • Salt and pepper. Ultimately the final word in taste is yours. Adjust seasoning to suit your or your family’s taste.
  • Broth or water. The recipe from the cooking school uses water, but other recipes use broth and some recipes use neither.

How to make Pappa al Pomodoro

This recipe uses stale bread. It is a great way to use up bits of older bread. If your bread isn’t dry, trim the crusts and cube, then dry it briefly in a low oven for 10-15 minutes.

drying bread on sheet pan.

Chop the tomatoes, reserving the juice. An easy way to chop tomatoes is to use a pair of culinary shears and just snip them inside the can. It takes about 1 minute!

cutting tomatoes with scissors.
Culinary scissors makes dicing tomatoes quick!

Over a medium heat, cook the onions until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, cooking briefly to release the flavor, but do not brown it. Add the chopped tomatoes and juice, reduce heat and cook about 8 minutes until cooked through and reduced slightly.

reducing tomato sauce.

The tomatoes will be quite thick. Puree the tomato and onion mixture using a blender, food processor or immersion blender. Return tomato mixture back to the pot. Add the dried bread cubes, and a ladleful of hot water or broth, and stir until well combined.

bread cubes in tomato sauce.

Continue cooking, partially covered, over a low heat, adding liquid if necessary, to keep mixture from burning. The bread will dissolve into the tomato sauce and become almost smooth. Season with kosher salt and black pepper to taste. Add chopped basil at the last minute.

adding basil to pappa pomodoro.

Garnish with additional chiffonade of fresh basil, and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Add some red pepper flakes if desired.

papa al pomodoro top shot yellow napkin.
pappa al pomodoro in crocks.

Pappa al Pomodoro

Pappa al pomodoro is a traditional Tuscan dish. This thick soup is made with stale Tuscan bread, tomatoes and fresh basil. Recipe adapted from Apicius International School of Hospitality.
5 from 15 votes
Prep Time 7 hours 15 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Course Appetizer
Cuisine Italian
Servings 6 servings
Calories 264 kcal



  • Chop tomatoes and reserve juice.
  • In a large saucepan heat 3 Tablespoons olive oil over medium heat until shimmering. Add onions and cook until translucent and softened, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook briefly just to release aroma.
  • Add chopped tomatoes and juice, reduce heat and cook about 8-10 minutes, until sauce has thickened.
  • Using an immersion blender or food processor, blend or pulse the tomato mixture a few times until blended. Don't worry if there if there is some texture.
  • Add bread cubes into the sauce, stirring until well combined. The bread will break down and dissolve. Partially cover and simmer 20 minutes, adding hot water or broth as needed, stirring occasionally. The soup will be quite thick, like porridge, so be careful not to add too much liquid.
  • Season with kosher salt and pepper to taste.
  • Just before serving add basil to soup. Garnish each bowl with additional basil and a drizzle of olive oil.


  • This soup uses stale bread. You can either purchase a country or rustic loaf a few days before making it or cube the bread and allow it to dry out in the oven for a few minutes. It’s a great way to use up leftover or old bread.
  • Don’t expect a “soup like” consistency, pappa al pomodoro is as thick as porridge!
  • This is a very rich soup, so a little goes a long way. It will serve 6-8 as a starter or “primo”.
  • Season with red pepper flakes if desired.


Serving: 1servingCalories: 264kcalCarbohydrates: 39gProtein: 8gFat: 9gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 0.01gSodium: 446mgPotassium: 478mgFiber: 4gSugar: 9gVitamin A: 306IUVitamin C: 14mgCalcium: 171mgIron: 4mg
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Similar Posts


  1. 5 stars
    I love every single ingredient that this soup has. I am a huge fan of soups. So this recipe is a pure win-win for me – so excited to make it over the weekend.

  2. I always have the ends of sourdough I never know what to do with as the slices are too tiny for anything else but now I know what I can do with it – presuming sourdough would work here?

  3. 5 stars
    This sounds absolutely amazing! I love the flavors and the texture. I think this is going to be a winner for me, especially since I always seem to have leftover bread on hand.

  4. 5 stars
    You know what, I’ve never had pappa al pomodoro before but it sounds absolutely delicious and so comforting! I love the idea of tossing in the bread into the soup itself. Sounds and looks delightful.

  5. 5 stars
    This looks so delicious! I love the versatility as well, with it being able to be served at any temperature. Makes a great dish for any time of year!

    1. I was surprised at the consistency at first. My daughter (who lived in florence for 4 months) said it was great “hangover” food! lol.

  6. 5 stars
    I was skeptical to try this because it doesn’t look like a “soup”, but I’m glad I did! The family loved it and I’ll be making it again when the weather gets cooler.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating