Pappa al Pomodoro: Tuscan Bread Soup ... With Mussels!

Our friends from Chicago's Soup & Bread events recently took their soup show on the road to Brooklyn, recruiting some local cooks to man the Crock-Pots for the evening. We were intrigued by the recipe for Pappa al Pomodoro from Gabe McMackin of Roberta’s Pizza, and even more so by his suggestion to finish it off with a big pile of mussels.

The soup itself sounded delicious, and we loved Gabe's hilarious instructions, starting with, "Heat a big ass pot over medium heat." His version serves 20 people and we only needed to feed two, so we cut it down considerably and just used an average ass pot.

You start with a lot of sliced garlic, saute it in olive oil, and then add fennel seed, red chili flakes and jalepeno pepper. This mixture smelled so fantastic that we were ready to stop cooking right there and eat it right out of the pot with a big hunk of bread.

But we restrained ourselves and finished the recipe. There wasn't much more to it – canned tomatoes, stale bread and stock. It would have been delicious if we'd stopped there, but Gabe's suggestion to add some mussels and finish it all off with lemon zest and basil sounded too wonderful to pass up.

The mussels definitely made the dish a little more special, and it only added about five minutes to the process to cook them right in the soup.

We will definitely be going back to this recipe and trying some other variations. Any suggestions?

Related: Good Eats: Bread and Tomato Soup

(Image: Joanna Miller)

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