You've heard of Taco Soup, that deconstructed hot mess of salsaliciousness where no spoon is needed as long as you have plenty of tortilla chips. Meet Taco Soup's Italian cousin - Pizza Soup. It is molto bene.
Extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 medium red, yellow or orange bell pepper, diced
4 cloves of garlic, finely diced, divided
1 quart of canned Roma tomatoes, including canning liquid
1 can diced tomatoes, including liquid
4 cups tomato juice or V8 juice
2 cups chicken stock
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
2 Tbsp. Italian seasoning
7 oz. sliced pepperoni
10 oz. finely grated Parmesan, Parmagiono-Regiano or Asiago cheese
1/2 tsp. cayenne
1 tsp. fennel seed
Fresh ground black pepper
8-10 leaves of fresh basil, chopped (chiffonade)
1 loaf of good Italian bread or French bread
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Heat 2 Tbsp. of olive oil in a medium to large stock pot over medium heat and add onions and peppers. Saute for 3-4 minutes and add 3 cloves of garlic. Saute for 1 more minute, then add tomatoes, tomato juice, chicken stock and lemon juice.
Add pepperoni to a frying pan and fry over medium heat until pepperoni gets crispy and much of the fat is rendered off then remove pepperoni from pan and set aside.
Add Italian seasoning and about half of the grated cheese to the soup, along with about 1/3 of the pepperoni. Stir to combine and let soup simmer over medium low heat for 10-15 minutes.
While the soup simmers, slice bread (bias cut) in 3/4 inch slices and brush 1 side with olive oil and place oiled side down on a large jelly roll pan. Combine remaining clove of finely diced garlic with 1 tsp. sea salt, 3 Tbsp. of olive oil spread on top of each slice of bread. Sprinkle a small amount of grated cheese on each piece. Place bread in the oven to toast for 8-10 minutes, them remove from oven. Chop or crumble remaining pepperoni and set aside for garnish. Salt and pepper soup to taste, remove from heat and serve. Top each bowl with some of the remaining pepperoni, cheese and basil. Finish with a drizzle of olive oil. Serve with bread.
Food for Thought.
Instead of fresh basil, you could whip up a nice pesto and just drizzle it over the soup. If you don't know how to make a simple traditional pesto, it is easy enough to find out how online. For acceptable results without the bit of extra work, a good store bought pesto can be a good alternative (I like the Classico Fresh Basil Pesto).
Of course, this recipe is just for the pepperoni version of Pizza Soup and as we all know, pizzas can include whatever we want so if you want a meat lovers, something more exotic like Feta with sundried tomatoes, marinated artichoke hearts or anything else that sounds good to you, go for it. Just throw it in. If you like taco pizza, you could even do a taco pizza soup. Well - maybe not. As always, ingredients are only part of the equation. Technique is needed to for proper execution. Having lived in the East for several years, I know how difficult it can be to make a truly killer New York style pizza crust here in the West where the water and the altitude can make ideal results elusive at best. Fortunately, soup can be more forgiving. Buon Appetito!