“Oh wow,” my tastebuds sighed, after I had my first bite of this. “Bread soup” is the literal translation, but I think of this as a cross between a bread pudding and pizza. It is easy to make, and vegetarian. I highly recommend this recipe.
In Bolivia, the type of bread used for this dish is Pan de Arani. Ciabatta is a good substitute and works well because the crust is soft and the loaf is relatively flat. I used a loaf of Trader Joe’s half-baked ciabatta, cut into 12 slices. You could also use a baguette with a soft crust, sliced on a sharp diagonal. And either jack cheese or mozzarella cheese will work here. You could also try halloumi cheese, which doesn’t really melt and is more like the cheese they would use in Bolivia.
I think you could assemble most of this dish the night before and bake it the following day, although I haven’t tested that method. If you do, I recommend pouring the remaining milk over the bread just before baking so that the bread doesn’t become too soggy. I used a combination of 1% milk and half-and-half; if you use only low-fat milk you may end up with a watery dish. Use an 8 or 9-inch square baking pan to bake this dish. If your pan does not have a non-stick coating, you may want to grease it a bit first.
1 tbsp. vegetable oil
1 medium red onion, sliced thinly (about 8 oz. or 2 cups)
2 Roma tomatoes, sliced in julienne strips (about 8 oz. or 2 cups)
1 large green pepper, sliced thinly (about 8 oz or 2 cups)
1 tsp. salt, divided
Black pepper, freshly ground
2 cups milk
1 (8 oz.) loaf of ciabatta bread, sliced thickly (¾-inch thick slices)
½ lb. jack cheese, sliced into 12 thick slices
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Heat the oil in a large frying pan. Cook the onion in the oil for 2 minutes, then add tomatoes and peppers and cook for 5 to 8 minutes. Add ½ teaspoon of salt and a few grinds of black pepper. If the mixture seems dry, add a splash of water and cover with a lid to create some additional moisture. The onion should be soft, the peppers should still be slightly crisp, and the tomato will be mostly dissolved. Set mixture aside to cool a bit.
Pour the milk into a bowl and dissolve the remaining ½ teaspoon of salt in the milk. Dip six bread slices into the milk and lay them, cut side facing up, into the baking pan. Layer with half of the vegetables and half of the cheese. Repeat the layering with soaked bread, then the remaining vegetables and cheese. Pour the remaining milk on top.
Bake until the cheese starts to become golden, 25 to 30 minutes. Let the dish rest about 15 minutes before serving. This allows time to cool and for any remaining milk to soak in.
Notes and Instructions
Recipe adapted from: https://boliviancookbook.wordpress.com/main-dishes/sopa-de-pan/
Photo credit: Linda McElroy