I spent today thinking of Tuscany. I am not sure if this is exactly true but I seem to remember reading that in Tuscany they use a lot of bread in cooking. The reason for this is because the powers that be at the time decided to raise some money by taxing salt. Hence to save money the Tuscans made bread without salt. But the downside of this was that the bread went stale more quickly resulting in various dishes that used stale bread imaginatively.
This soup has nothing to do with Tuscany of course, but it was delicious . . . . and I think the best way to use stale bread is to make croutons!
- Put your oven on to it’s hottest setting.
- In an oven proof dish put 5 or six tomatoes, an onion, a couple of cloves of garlic and a bunch of Thyme. (Peel and roughly chop each as appropriate.)
- Sprinkle over some salt, ground black pepper and a couple of tablespoonfuls of olive oil.
- Stir it all about a bit and pop in the oven.
- Leave to cook until the tomatoes are blackened around the edges - twenty minutes or so depending on how hot the oven is.
- Meanwhile roughly chop some stale bread, I had a bit of left over ciabatta, put in a bowl with salt, pepper and a crushed and chopped clove of garlic.
- Pour over another tablespoonful or two of olive oil, stir, and leave to sit.
- Ten minutes before the tomatoes are ready put the croutons onto a baking tray and place in the oven.
- The will be fine, but watch the croutons because they will quickly burn. Take them out just as they get golden brown and just charred at the edges.
- Take the tomatoes from the oven, allow to cool fro a few minutes then pour into a sieve over a bowl.
- Use a wooden spoon to rub the tomato mixture through the sieve, removing the skins, seeds and stalks etc in the process.
- Put the tomato sauce into a saucepan with an equal amount of vegetable stock and a small potato peeled and chopped smallish.
- Bring back to a simmer and cook until the potato is soft.
- Finally crush the potato up a bit with a masher, check and add more salt or pepper if required and the soup is made.
Serve with the croutons, a squeeze of lemon juice and some bright green chopped parsley.
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