Zuppa di Cippole


Serves 6

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 plump garlic cloves peeled and sliced
2 pounds Tropea or other sweet onion,halved and thinly sliced crosswise
1 tablespoon kosher salt
3 cups(one 29 ounce can) Italian plum tomatoes. Preferably San Marzano
4 cups water
6 thick slices country bread
1/4 pound chunk provola or provolone

1/3 cup grated pecorino or to taste


Recommended Equipment: A heavy saucepan, such as enameled cast iron French oven, 4 to 5 quart capacity with a cover.
Pour the olive oil into the pot,set it over medium heat,and scatter in the sliced garlic. Let the garlic sizzle for a minute,then fill the pan with the onion slices,and sprinkle the salt over them.Stir the onions so that they are all coated with oil. Cook them slowly stirring frequently, for 15 minutes or so, until they are reduced in volume and translucent, lightly colored but not brown.
Pour in the crushed tomatoes and water (some of which you've used to slosh out the tomato container). Stir in with the onions,cover the pan and bring to a boil, then adjust the heat to keep the soup simmering gently. Cook covered for 45 minutes( the onions should be very tender). Uncover and cook another 15 minutes, or until the soup has reduced by about a quarter.
When ready to serve,toast or grill the bread slices. Cut the provola into six or more slices.Put a slice of hot bread in the bottom of each of six warm soup bowls, and lay a slice of cheese on top.With a big slotted spoon,scoop up the onions and tomatoes from the soup, and drop portions over the bread and cheese in each bowl. Finally, ladle in hot broth to fill the bowls, sprinkle grated pecorino over each, and served immediately.