Courtesy Nicholas Stefanelli, chef/owner, Masseria, Washington, D.C.
Puglia is home to a bread called Pane di Altamura, which is the only Denominazione di Origine Protetta (DOP) for bread. These rustic loaves from the Murgia plateau are made from specific varieties of durum wheat, and their crusts must be at least three millimeters thick. With a constant flow of crusty pane, the resourceful denizens have found a delicious alternative to tossing stale loaves: bread soup.
“The ability to use something that is left over and turn it into something that is delicious and soul satisfying is really special,” says Chef Nicholas Stefanelli, of Masseria in Washington, D.C. Some versions call for seasonal greens, while others add potatoes for a heartier outcome. This recipe is a stripped-down take that highlights the savory bread.
- 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 clove garlic, sliced
- 1 medium yellow onion, diced
- 1 carrot, diced
- 3 celery stalks, diced
- 1 large tomato, fresh or canned, rough chopped
- 3 quarts chicken stock
- 3–4 thick slices rustic day-old bread, cubed
- Salt and fresh-ground black pepper, to taste
- 1 small bunch parsley, chopped
- ¼ cup grated Pecorino Romano
Warm large pot over medium heat. Add ½ cup olive oil and garlic. Once garlic begins to sizzle, add onion, carrot and celery. Cook vegetables until soft and translucent. Add tomato, and cook for 5 minutes. Add chicken stock, and bring to boil. Add bread, and reduce to simmer. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Add parsley, and divide among bowls. Top with Pecorino Romano. Serves 4.
No single flavor takes over this dish, so it’s best to find a pairing that acts as a complementary backdrop. Tormaresca’s Pietrabianca Chardonnay is a mildly oaked offering that will integrate with the bread, cheese and savory broth elements in the soup. It will also highlight the rest of the dish with its delicate, citrus-driven acidity. Serve this medium-bodied white slightly warmer than usual, at 50–55°F.