A bowl of food with a spoon.

Pappa al Pomodoro – Alison Mountford

By Alison Mountford, contributing chef


QUICK TIPS – This is one of the very few recipes we’d consider buying tomatoes out of season for because of the way they cook down to the correct texture for this soup. You can use canned tomatoes, but it might be too watery if you aren’t careful. This is a classic, ages old Italian “use up your stale bread” recipe and it’s stood the test of time for a reason!


1 pound crusty bread (day old or even stale is preferred)

1.5 pound Roma tomato (or on-the-vine, whatever looks ripe)

1 yellow onion

3 clove garlic

2 Tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 Tablespoon tomato paste

.25 teaspoon white sugar

.25 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 teaspoon kosher salt (possibly more to taste)

.25 teaspoon black pepper (freshly cracked)
4 cup water

3 Tablespoon basil (optional or use dried)


  1. BREAD

Dice into 2” cubes. Remove some sections of really burnt or dense crusts but you can leave much of it on. If it’s too stale to cut, douse it with water, like a sponge first.


Dice the tomatoes, set aside in a bowl. Dice the onion into small pieces. Mince the garlic. Add both to a heavy pot with the olive oil and sauté until translucent and fragrant. Add the tomato paste, tomatoes, sugar, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper. Stir to combine and occasionally while cooking for 10 minutes to reduce the tomatoes.


Add the bread cubes and water and bring to a simmer. Cook for about 10 minutes and use a wooden spoon to mash up the bread cubes. The soup will become thick, like the consistency of oatmeal. Add basil or herbs, if using, taste to make sure there’s enough salt and pepper.


Serve in a shallow bowl, drizzle with good quality olive oil, more basil, or even cheese or a knob of butter, if desired.


Downloadable recipe you can print:


Find other recipes from Alison, here:


Chef Alison Mountford is the founder of Ends+Stems – which is a meal planning membership and recipe website to reduce food waste. “Chef Alison” also hosts a series of online courses for easier weeknight meals and feeding picky eaters with less stress. Alison began in 2005 as a personal chef and caterer in San Francisco but she recently returned home to Rhode Island!

She is passionate about helping families eat well together, with less frustration. Alison is often hired as a speaker to share about household food waste, feeding busy families, and sustainability in the kitchen; she’s appeared many times on The Rhode Show and other podcasts and webinars.

Alison is also the Market Coordinator at Hope & Main – Rhode Island only culinary incubator – where she loves helping new food businesses expand their social media, brand, and increase sales at the farmer’s markets!