Summer Tomato Soup & Fried Basil Chips

This is the epitome of Italian dishes (locally known as Pappa al Pomodoro) and one of my favourite, favourite soup recipes.  Actually calling it a soup is like calling the Queen ‘a lady with a handbag!’  When it’s made slowly, with love this dish has enough magic to make you believe in the simplicity and majesty of Mother Nature’s bountiful pantry! Also, 12 million Italians can’t be wrong.  An opera in a bowl……..

Prep Time: 20 min

Cook time: 1 hour

Serves: 6


2 tbsp olive oil
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 onion, finely sliced
1 kg tomatoes, peeled and chopped (see Hax) OR
2 x 410g tins crushed tomatoes
freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp sugar
200g ciabatta loaf, pulsed to a coarse crumb (or you can just tear it up)
850ml chicken stock (the best you can afford), hot
200 fresh basil leaves, shredded
extra virgin olive oil for garnish
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Fried Basil Leaves
1/2 cup oil (like canola)
12 basil leaves


Heat the oil in a large saucepan, add the garlic and onions and saute over a low heat for 8 – 10 minutes until soft, translucent and fragrant. Pour in the tomatoes a good grind of fresh black pepper, sugar and stir. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes stirring occasionally.

Remove the lid and sprinkle in the bread. Simmer and stir for about 5 minutes. Gradually stir in the stock. Cook and gently stir until bread is soft and broken down and your soup is lovely and thick.

Remove your soup from the heat and stir in the shredded basil leaves. Cover and leave to stand for 1 hour.

Fried Basil Leaves: In a large wide frying pan pour your oil, when it comes up to heat throw in a basil leaf. If it pops and sizzles the oil is ready. Throw in the rest of your basil leaves (be careful – if you have a splash guard use it), toss the leaves around until dark green and crisp. Remove from oil and drain on some kitchen paper. Garnish your soup with a couple of these aromatic chips and don’t forget your bread to clean up your plate!

Jax says : this soup is good, but if you can stand to wait a day, the flavours bloom and it’s actually like eating a bowl of summery sunshine – trust me, it’s worth the wait AND share with good friends.

Food Jax Hamilton - Photo : David Baird