Traditional Tuscan Tomato Porridge {Pappa al Pomodoro} (Cook the Books Club)

This is a month for joining new clubs!  This time around, it’s the Cook the Books Club.  Participants read a novel and then create a recipe inspired by the novel.  For as much as I love books, joining this club was a no-brainer for me!

The August/September selection for the book club was A Thousand Days in Venice: An Unexpected Romance by Marlena diBlasi.

A disclaimer before I begin: I read the synopsis of the book several weeks before I borrowed it digitally from my friend, Wendy, and forgot that it was a memoir, so I think that affected my opinion of the book.  To read my full review, check out Goodreads (and be my friend!  I’m always up for new recommendations!)

If you don’t feel like stopping by Goodreads, here’s the gist of it:  I loved the imagery of the story.  The descriptions of the places and the foods makes me desperately want to visit Venice and experience it for all it is.  Despite that, I had trouble connecting with Marlena.  I’m not sure if it was because I spend most of the book thinking it was a novel (versus a memoir) or just because I’m at a very different stage of life than she is (she’s older and divorced with grown children, I’m younger, married, and my kids are young.)

Lucky for me, I was very inspired by Venice and all the drool-worthy food descriptions.  Plus Marlena de Blasi is also a chef, so she included recipes for several of the dishes she described in the book!

Since the weather is just starting to turn cool, I decided to make de Blasi’s Traditional Tuscan Tomato Porridge, or Pappa al Pomodoro.

The tomato porridge is a robust version of our American tomato soups and I thought it was amazing.  I wanted my porridge even thicker, so I served it up in whole wheat bread bowls and let the porridge soak right into the bowl.  It was amazing!

Traditional Tuscan Tomato Porridge {Pappa al Pomodoro}
Adapted from Marlena de Blasi via A Thousand Days in Venice

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
4 large cloves garlic, minced
1 large onion, minced
1 (28 oz) can whole tomatoes, undrained (or 4 peeled seeded tomatoes)
5 cups beef broth
¾ cup dry white wine
Salt & pepper
2 cups coarse bread (I used a French baguette), crust removed, torn in ½-inch pieces
¾ cup romano cheese
1/3 cup fresh basil leaves, torn
½ tsp red wine vinegar
Bread bowls, for serving (optional)

Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat.  Add the onion and garlic and cook until tender.

Lightly crush the tomatoes (I pulsed them a few times in my mini food processor).

Add the crushed tomatoes, plus the juice from the can to the soup pot.  Stir in the beef broth, wine, salt and pepper.  Simmer for 10 minutes.

Remove from heat.  Stir in the Romano cheese and basil.  Cover and set aside for at least 1 hour.

When ready to eat, stir in the balsamic vinegar and heat through.

Serve in bread bowls with a drizzle of olive oil and a few cracks of black pepper.


  1. Thanks for joining our elite little group! :)

    I love that you served the porridge in a bread bowl. Really ingenious, Amy! Am working on the round-up now. Hope to have it out by the 1st or 2nd.

  2. G'day! This recipe and your photo look delish Amy! Pinned!
    Congrats on completing this month's Cook The Books Club challenge too!
    Cheers! Joanne @What's On The List

  3. What a lush version of the Tuscan Tomato Porridge! Welcome aboard Cook the Books! I look forward to more of your interesting and beautifully photographed posts!

  4. Boy oh boy, your picture and description made my mouth water. I've got to try that porridge! It would be perfect for end of the summer tomato abundance.

  5. Thanks for joining in our Cook the Book fun! Your soup looks amazing! Good job.

  6. Welcome to Cook the Books Amy! We are happy to have you cooing along with us. ;-) Gorgeous photos too. I love your soup--so hearty and good. There is nothing better than soup in a bread bowl--it adds so much to a simple bowl of soup.

  7. I echo the other co-hosts' welcoming message. Glad you decided to join our fun club. If you stay with us for the next edition, the book is a novel ;) Your rendition of the Tuscan tradition looks lovely.


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