I don’t know about you but sometimes just reading the name of a dish makes me want to cook it. When I was looking through Mark Bittman’s book for a soup to make this one caught my eye. Tomatoes and bread…yum. Since there was no picture of the finished product I had no idea how this soup would turn out. Actually, when it was “done” I thought I had missed an ingredient or measured something incorrectly because the soup didn’t look like soup to me at all. It seemed more like a bread casserole or bread pudding to me (Bittman calls it a “mush”). I was a little afraid to test it. But you know what? It was really good. The taste was much like many of the Italian dishes you’ve had, I’m sure. The flavors of tomato, basil and onion mix so well and the texture of the dish was bready and warm. It was perfect for a winter lunch or dinner.


  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 dried red chile (optional)
  • salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 3 cups peeled, cored, seeded and chopped tomato (you can also used canned tomatoes)
  • 1 to 2 cups vegetable stock
  • ½ a loaf (or more) day-old French or Italian bread, cut into cubes
  • ¼ cup fresh basil leaves, torn


  1. Put the oil in a large, deep saucepan or casserole over medium heat. When hot, add the onion, garlic and dried chile. Season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring, until the garlic is fragrant and golden and the onion begins to soften, about 5 minutes. 
  2. Add the tomato and cook, stirring occasionally, until the pieces break up, 10 to 15 minutes. Add the stock (I used 1 cup vegetable stock and 1 cup of the tomato juice from the can of tomatoes), stir in the bread, and simmer for another minute.
  3. Take the pot off the heat, check the seasoning, and let it sit until the bread is saturated with the soup, about 10 minutes.

Bittman’s note: If you want to make this in advance you can cover it and refrigerate for up to 2 days. Just reheat before serving.

The Finished Product