A hearty, inexpensive soup that's good at any time of year.
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 2 small onions, finely chopped
- 1 cup peeled, diced carrots (about 4)
- 1 cup chopped and cored fennel bulb
- 4 garlic cloves, finely minced
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 4 cups dried bread cubes
- 2 28-oz. cans of crushed tomatoes
- 5 cups chicken or vegetable stock, or water
- 1/3 cup red wine
- 1 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano leaves
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
- 4 oz. sliced mushrooms
- 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- salt and pepper to taste
- In a large sauce pan (and I mean large) or a stockpot, heat the olive oil on medium. Add onions, fennel, and carrots, and sweat until they start to soften, about 7 minutes. Add the garlic and stir in the tomato paste. Cook about 3 more minutes. Stir in the bread, and cook an additional 5 minutes.
- Add the tomatoes, stock, wine, and herbs. Add 1/2 tablespoon of salt and 1 teaspoon of pepper.
- Increase heat to high and bring to a boil. Stir, reduce heat to medium, and simmer partly covered for about an hour, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are soft.
- Stir the bread to break it up (if necessary). Stir in the mushrooms and Parmesan cheese. Check the seasonings.
- Serve and enjoy.
You can use fresh bread as well. Whichever you decide to use, you can make it as thick or thin as you want. If your soup is too thick, add more stock or water, or add tomato juice. If it's too thin, allow it to reduce uncovered, or add more bread.