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Pappa al Pomodoro with Grilled Eggplant


  • Sea salt and pepper

  • 1 small, firm eggplant (1pound), thinly sliced crosswise

  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), divided

  • 3 pounds heirloom, plum or other tomatoes or 2 cans Italian plum tomatoes (28 ounces each)

  • Ice water

  • 6 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

  • 1 fresh chili pepper, such as Fresno or italian cherry, finely chopped

  • 1 small onion, peeled

  • 4 cups chicken stock (32 ounces)

  • 1 pound stale peasant bread, torn or cubed

  • 1 cup basil leaves, torn

  • Coarsely grated ricotta salata or smoked ricotta cheese, for serving


Heat a grill pan or heavy griddle over medium-high heat. Salt the eggplant and set on paper towels for 10-15 minutes, then pat dry. Brush the eggplant with 1/4 cup EVOO and grill, turning once, for 6-8 minutes. Coarsely chop. If using fresh tomatoes, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Fill a bowl with ice water. Score the ends of the tomatoes with a large “X.” Boil the tomatoes to a count of 30, then plunge into the ice water. Peel the tomatoes. In the pot, heat the remaining 1/4 cup EVOO, four turns of the pan, over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and chili pepper. Grate the onion into the pot with a box or hand grater so that the onion juice is not wasted. Stir for 2-3 minutes. Add the tomatoes and crush with a potato masher; season with salt and pepper. Stir in the stock and bring to a boil. Stir in the bread and basil after 5 minutes. Cook until the bread has broken down and the soup is substantially thickened, 5 more minutes. Serve the soup in bowls and top with the eggplant and cheese.