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1 large bunch of fresh basil , leaves picked, stalks finely chopped
extra virgin olive oil , the best you can find
freshly ground black pepper
2 x 400 g good-quality tinned plum tomatoes
500 g stale good-quality bread
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This Tuscan soup is delicious – it's a soup everyone should try. Just thinking of it makes me salivate! It's a family-friendly soup – babies and grandparents (both without teeth!) can eat it with gusto. I've added roasted cherry tomatoes to my recipe but it also works really well just with tinned. The great thing is that it only takes 20 minutes to cook, so go for it! PS Use a stale white cottage-style loaf – not cheap sliced white factory bread.
Prick the cherry tomatoes and toss them with one sliced clove of garlic and a quarter of the basil leaves. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, put them in a roasting tray and cook in the oven at 180ºC/350ºF/gas 4 for about 20 minutes. The reason for doing this is so that their flavour becomes intense and concentrated.
Heat a lug of olive oil in a large pot and add the remaining garlic and the basil stalks. Stir around and gently fry for a minute until softened. Add your tinned tomatoes, then fill the tin with water and add that. Break the tomatoes up with a spoon, bring to the boil and simmer for 15 minutes.
Tear the bread up into thumb-sized pieces and add them to the pan. Mix well and season to taste. Tear in the basil leaves and let the soup sit on a low heat for 10 minutes. By this time your roasted tomatoes will be done, with juice bursting out of their skins, so remove them from the tray, remembering to scrape all the lovely sticky bits from the bottom. Pour them into the soup with all the juices, basil and oil from the tray.
Give the soup a good stir – you're looking to achieve a thick, silky, porridgey texture, so feel free to adjust it with a little water. Then remove it from the heat and add 6 or 7 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil. Divide between your bowls and serve with a little extra basil torn over the top if you like. The most important thing with this soup is that you have a wonderfully intense sweet tomato basil flavour.