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Tuscan-Style Country Supper: Pappa al Pomodoro (Bread & Tomato Soup) + Sausage & White Beans with Sage
For the Pappa al Pomodoro:
About 3 cups (4 ounces) torn crusty stale bread, bite-sized pieces
3 tablespoons EVOO, plus to pass at table for topping
4 cloves garlic, chopped or grated
One 28-ounce can whole Italian tomatoes
2 cups passata or tomato sauce
Salt and pepper or a pinch of red pepper flakes
1 quart chicken or vegetable stock
A generous handful of basil leaves, torn, plus a few small leaves for garnish
Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, freshly grated, to serve
For the Sausage and White Beans with Sage:
3 tablespoons EVOO
1 bulb fennel, cored and chopped
1 onion, chopped
Salt and pepper
4 cloves garlic, sliced
1 pound sweet Italian sausage with fennel, cut from casings
½ cup white wine
2 small cans white beans (cannellini), drained
12 leaves sage, stacked and thinly sliced, plus some for garnish
1 cup beef or chicken bone stock or brodo or broth
For the pappa al pomodoro, preheat oven to 350°F and toast bread until golden and fragrant.
In a large deep skillet or a cast-iron enamel soup pot, heat EVOO, 3 turns of the pan or pot, over medium heat and stir in garlic 1 to 2 minutes, then add the tomatoes, hand-crushed as you go. Add passata and season with salt and pepper or red pepper. Add stock and basil, bring to a bubble and simmer 5 to 7 minutes. Add bread and allow it to soften and expand 10 to 12 minutes more.
Serve in shallow bowls and top with grated cheese, more EVOO and basil.
For the sausage and white beans, in deep skillet, heat 3 turns of the pan of EVOO over medium heat. Add fennel and onion, season with salt and pepper and soften 7 to 8 minutes. Add garlic and sausage and lightly brown and crumble the sausage. Add the white wine and let it absorb. Add beans, sage and stock and simmer on low until ready to serve. Garnish with reserved sage.