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Old Friends, New Friends and Pappa al Pomodoro Soup

Hearty Pappa al Pomodoro

Hearty Pappa al Pomodoro

“You can make new, wonderful friends, but never new childhood friends. Very comforting.” is what my friend, Jane, said after dinner last night.

Last night I had dinner with three friends I’ve had since first grade. How lucky am I? We’re all at different places in our lives and don’t see each other as often as we like…but, when we do see each other, we can pick up right where we left off.  They’re priceless and I wish I saw them more. We have so many of the same memories; Mrs. Leight’s dance class, campfire girls, berry picking, grade school, junior high and high school….. I know their mothers and they know mine….. so, believe me, we have a lot to talk about….

It was quite devastating for me when Miss G. quit playing basketball in high school, because I didn’t get to see my basketball mom friends as much.{ Yes, I know, boo hoo, architect mom, get over it!} But….you see these people two or three times a week for a good portion of the year since your child’s fourth grade year and you’re bound to get attached. Anyways, now that the girls are off to college, it’s harder than ever to see each other. I was lucky that most of them could make it to lunch.

It was a good lunch, if I do say so myself…the food was good and the company even better. For the main course, I made Ina Garten’s Pappa al Pomodoro from her Back to Basics cookbook and served it with Green Pancakes from Yotam Ottolenghi’s Plenty Cookbook. Dee-lish-us! The Pappa al Pomodoro is a hearty Italian tomato soup thickened with ciabatta bread and the Green Pancakes with lime butter were a very tasty accompaniment. I think I’m going to make this combo again this week for the tennis ladies….

make new friends, but keep the old, one is silver and the other gold…

Pappa al Pomodoro

adapted from Back to Basics by Ina Garten


  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 cups yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 fennel bulb, trimmed, cored, & medium diced
  • 1 cup (about 3) carrots, unpeeled & medium diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 cups (1 inch) ciabatta bread, crust removed
  • 2 (28 oz.) cans good Italian plum tomatoes
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • kosher salt & fresh ground pepper
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated
  • ***** topping ***************
  • 3 cups ciabatta bread, 1 inch dice
  • 2 oz. thickly sliced pancetta, chopped
  • 24 to 30 whole fresh basil leaves
  • 3 T. olive oil

Cooking Directions:

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large stock pot over medium heat. Add the onion, fennel, carrots, and garlic and sauté until tender - about 10 minutes.
  2. Add the bread and cook for 5 more minutes.
  3. In a food processor, process the tomatoes until they are coarsely chopped.
  4. Add the tomatoes, stock, wine, basil, 1 1/2 t. pepper and 1 T. kosher salt to the pot.
  5. Bring the soup to a boil, lower the heat and simmer, partially covered for about 45 minutes.
  6. Meanwhile, prepare the topping:
  7. Place the bread, pancetta and basil in a single layer on a large baking sheet. Drizzle with the oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and toss to distribute evenly.
  8. Bake at 375 until the ingredients are browned (even the basil), about 20-25 minutes.
  9. Reheat the soup if necessary. Whisk until the bread is broken up and add the parmesan. Season with more salt and pepper if required.
  10. Serve topped with the croutons, pancetta and basil. Drizzle with olive oil if desired.( I skipped this drizzling.....)
  11. Enjoy!


Green Pancakes with Cilantro Lime Butter

Green Pancakes with Cilantro Lime Butter

Green Pancakes with LIme Butter

adapted from Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi


  • 1/2 pound (8 cups) spinach, washed
  • 3/4 cup self rising flour
  • 1 T. baking powder
  • 1 egg
  • 4 T. unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 1 t. cumin, ground
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 6 medium green onions, finely sliced
  • 1 egg white
  • olive oil for frying
  • ******lime butter****
  • 8 T. (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temp.
  • 1 lime grated zest & 1 1/2 T. juice
  • 1/4 t. salt
  • 1/2 t. white pepper
  • 1 T. cilantro
  • 1/2 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/4 t. chile flakes

Cooking Directions:

  1. Wilt the spinach in a pan with a tiny bit of water. Drain and when cool squeeze to remove as much water as possible. Chop it up.
  2. Put the flour, baking powder, egg, melted butter, salt, cumin and milk in a large bowl and whisk until smooth.
  3. Add the onions, spinach and I did not, but you can, 2 thinly sliced fresh green chiles and mix with a fork.
  4. Whisk the egg white until soft peaks form and gently fold into the batter.
  5. Fry in a heavy frying pan in a small amount of olive oil. Make about a 3 inch diameter (about 2 T. of batter) pancake and cook for about 2 minutes each side or until golden. Transfer to paper towels and keep warm.
  6. Serve the warm pancakes topped with a slice of the lime butter.
  7. To make the lime butter:
  8. Put the butter in a medium bowl and beat with a wooden spoon until it turns soft and creamy. Stir in the lime zest, juice, salt, pepper, cilantro, garlic and chile flakes.
  9. Turn onto a piece of plastic wrap and roll it up like a sausage. Chill until firm




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{ 2 comments… add one }

  • Joan Robinett Wilson January 6, 2014, 11:24 am

    Thanks, Beth! It’s on the resolution list to keep up on the blog!!!

  • bethhamlin January 6, 2014, 10:50 am

    Hooray!!!! You’re back – – I’ve missed your posts Joan!

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