My foodie friend Janel Ovrut Funk, MS RD LDN, is providing this fabulous recipe for Italian Bread Soup in today’s post. Enjoy! Robyn
I’m not a fan of cold weather, despite living in Boston or upstate-NY for my entire life. But if I had to choose one thing I enjoy most about the long, cold winter months of New England, my response is soup. Yes, soup is my favorite thing about winter. There is nothing more comforting than ending a cold, snowy day with a piping hot bowl of soup to thaw you out. And making homemade soup couldn’t be easier, or healthier, since you have control over how much salt you add to your pot, and can jam pack your broth with whatever veggies and whole grains you like.
This Italian Bread Soup became my absolute favorite soup after my Italian roommate introduced me to it a few years ago. I couldn’t get over how creamy and cheese-like it tasted, yet it contained not even a drop of dairy. My husband calls it “Pizza Soup,” saying it tastes just like a hot, cheesy slice in soup form. It is stick-to-your-ribs satisfying, and pairs perfectly with a light side salad, garnished with some beans or nuts for a little protein boost.
Ingredients for an extra large batch:
15 oz fresh bread – even a few days old bread is better but fresh is fine, in my opinion
2 (two) 28oz cans diced tomatoes, liquid included
4 cups vegetable broth
1+ cups water as needed
¼ cup olive oil
3 minced garlic cloves
Salt to taste
Red pepper flakes to taste
Bunch of fresh basil, some leaves chopped and some cut into thin ribbons (chiffonade)
1. Cut the crust off of your loaf of bread, then cut or rip bread into bite-sized pieces.
2. Place all ingredients (except extra water and chiffonade basil) in a large soup pot set on medium heat. When the soup begins to boil, lower the heat and cook covered, about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add extra water as needed if you feel it needs a bit more liquid. The soup should be very thick, and the bread should start to dissolve into the liquid.
3. Turn off heat. Using a hand-held immersion blender, blend the soup right in the pot until it reaches a creamy consistency and all of the bread is broken down. You could also scoop some soup into a blender and blend it on low a few batches at a time to get a creamier consistency. Or, if you like the soup more chunky, leave it as is! I like leaving some chunks of bread and tomato in there, so I only run the immersion blender for a few seconds.
4. Ladle soup into bowls and top with basil chiffonade.
Janel Funk is a Boston-based Registered Dietitian who enjoys helping others make healthy changes, one bite at a time. You can follow Janel’s blog, Eat Well with Janel become an Eat Well with Janel fan, and follow her food and nutrition tweets on Twitter