Fresh tomatoes are the stars of this bread-filled, comforting and speedy stew
Ripe tomatoes beg to be consumed immediately, but life may dictate otherwise. That's when I turn to an Italian dish that creates something satisfying from just a few added ingredients. I could go the panzanella route, but this slurpy stew is less acidic than that salad and offers the added comfort of a warming bowl.
Lately, the heirloom specimens I've rescued from the garden or plucked from a bin of "uglies" are what I have been carving up for this recipe. My stash of bread tends to be not stale, as in a traditional Tuscan preparation, so I either toast the torn chunks in the oven to dry them out a bit (which adds texture and flavor) or I toss them, just-defrosted, straight into the pot of garlic-infused broth.
After you have tasted the stew for seasoning -- keeping in mind that Parm will be passed at the table -- wait to stir in your fresh basil until the last minute. That way, its perfume will waft up from each serving.