Last week, I made that Italian tomato and bread salad everyone's always talking about: panzanella. It was a riff on a recipe I saw in Homemade with Love by Jennifer Perillo and Penny de los Santos (good book, by the way). I grilled the bread, brushing it with olive oil beforehand and rubbing it with a garlic clove afterwards. Then I cubed the toasty bread and tossed it with fresh farm tomatoes, chopped basil, parsley, and marjoram from my neighbor's garden, a little vinaigrette, and some crumbled feta cheese I had in the fridge.
The kids thought it was "weird" until I explained that it's just like salad except all of the lettuce was traded in for extra croutons. Then they were pretty okay with it. The adults thought it was really good, but someone made a whole giant bowl of the stuff and you can only eat so much. At least that was Husband's excuse. So I put plastic wrap over the top and saved it for the next day even though I knew what was going to happen. By tomorrow, it would be a spongy, disgusting mess. Who wants to eat a bunch of soggy croutons? No one, that's who.
Over one shoulder appeared a miniature version of Husband wearing a pair of plastic red horns on his head. You're never going to eat the rest of that, he said. Just throw it away. You can throw it away now, or you can throw it away later once an entire new micro-civilization has evolved. But, either way, it's going in the garbage.
Over the other shoulder appeared a miniature version of someone else who looked kind of familiar except she was wearing a flowy white dress over her jeans, which is very out of character. She was also holding a dinner plate over her head like some kind of a halo, which it clearly was not. Nevertheless, she implored me to keep it. Just keep it around for a day or two. It'll totally still be good. Think of all the starving people, blah, blah, blah.
So I saved the leftover panzanella and pulled it out for lunch the next day. It was even more horrible than expected. Why is cold, mushy bread so vile? But then I had an idea. An epiphany, really. Why not make soup? The Spaniards sometimes thicken gazpacho with bread. The Wednesday Chef has an amazing tomato soup recipe on her blog that is bread-based. What would happen if I just dumped the leftover panzanella into a pot with a can of tomatoes and cooked it for, oh, 10 to 15 minutes?
Awesomeness happens, that's what. Best. Lunch. Ever.