2slicescenter-cut baconomit for vegetarian, chopped
24wholefresh basil leaves
For the soup
In a large Dutch oven or stockpot, heat the olive oil over medium heat.
Add the onions, carrots, celery, and fennel seed, and sauté until softened, about 10 minutes.
Add the garlic & ciabatta cubes and cook for another 5 minutes, stirring often.
Using your hands or kitchen scissors, break/cut up the tomatoes. Stir them in to the pot along with the chicken stock or broth, wine, basil, salt, and pepper.
Bring the soup to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook partially covered for about 45 minutes. Be sure to stir occasionally.
Meanwhile, make the topping:
Preheat oven to 375°F.
Put the chopped bacon and diced ciabatta bread on a large baking pan. I like to keep them on separate sides.
Stir the tablespoon of olive oil into the bread.
Bake in preheated oven for 10 minutes.
Take it out of the oven. Stir the bread and bacon together.
Push the bread & bacon to one half of the pan.
Put the basil leaves in one layer on the remaining half of the baking sheet.
Bake another 10-15 minutes, until bacon is cooked, basil leaves are crispy & dark, and ciabatta is toasted.
Finish the soup:
Once the soup is done, use an immersion blender to chop up some of the soup and incorporate the bread into the soup.
Then, stir in the Parmesan cheese, if using.
Serve each bowl with the topping. Enjoy!
*Parmesan cheese is delicious but not necessary. Omit for dairy-free.*Can use 2 cups diced fresh fennel in place of the celery + fennel seeds. *Omit the wine if desired and use an equal amount of broth or water. *This recipe is adapted from this recipe in Ina Garten's Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics.
Recipe from Living Well Kitchen https://blog.memeinge.com/pappa-al-pomodoro/