Recipe by Alexa Weibel
Start to Finish: 45 minutes
1/2 cup olive oil
6 oz. ciabatta, cut into 1-inch cubes
3/4 tsp. ground fennel seeds
3 shallots, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tbsp. tomato paste
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper
1 can 2(8 oz.) diced plum tomatoes
3 3/4 cups vegetable stock
3 tbsp. finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
12 fresh basil leaves, torn, plus 2 tbsp. thinly sliced
1/2 cup fresh ricotta
1. In a large pot, heat 1/4 cup oil over medium-high. Add the bread, ground fennel seeds, and 1 tsp. each salt and pepper. Cook, stirring often, until toasted, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel.
2. Add 2 tbsp. oil to the pot; heat over medium-low. Add the shallots and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the tomato paste and crushed red pepper. Cook, stirring often, until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes and their juices and the stock. Cook over high heat, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 15 minutes.
3. Stir in the bread, parsley, and torn basil. Heat over medium-low, stirring occasionally, until the bread just starts to break down, 3 to 5 minutes; season.
4. Divide the soup among bowls. Drizzle with the remaining 2 tbsp. oil. Dollop with the ricotta. Top with the sliced basil.