More tomatoes? Make Panzanella!

I’m down to the last of the end-of-summer tomatoes. Not my own of course. The deer population wiped me out too many years in a row, so I never plant vegetables anymore. I rely on the local farmer’s market and friends who are either more persistent or don’t live in the same neighborhood as the deer do.

With my last precious few tomatoes (unless I can get some this week) I’m making Panzanella, a homemade tomato soup. It’s actually bread with tomato soup, and is very thick, almost salad-like. Also filling.

There’s a cheese-free version of this recipe in my book, Hip Kosher, but sometimes I serve it chock full of freshly grated Parmesan cheese along with some fresh basil, also from the garden. It’s hearty and filling. Great before a grilled fish or vegetarian dinner.

Bread and Tomato Soup with Cheese

10 ounce ciabatta, Tuscan or other crusty day-old bread

6 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

6 large beefsteak tomatoes, chopped

1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh basil

6 cups vegetable stock

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Toast the bread lightly or bake in a preheated 400 degree oven for 4-6 minutes or until firm and lightly crispy. Cut the bread into pieces and set aside. Heat the olive oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 2-3 minutes or until softened. Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Add the bread and toss the pieces around the pan. Add the tomatoes and cook for 3-4 minutes, tossing the ingredients frequently. Add the basil and stock. Bring the soup to a simmer. Cook for about 25-30 minutes or until the bread has absorbed most of the liquid. Sprinkle the Parmesan cheese on top, stir and serve topped with more Parmesan cheese if desired. Makes 4-6 servings