(CNN) — If you're looking for something simple that can check all of the "what's for dinner?" boxes, it doesn't get much easier than Tuscan tomato soup.
Savory, veggie-packed and kid-approved, "Searching for Italy" host Stanley Tucci has a recipe that's become a mainstay in his family. "Right from the start, it was one of those things the kids loved to eat," he says in his 2014 cookbook, "The Tucci Table."
"The secret to it lies in its slow simmer," Tucci writes. "When cooking anything with tomato, as my mother always says, you want it to lose its 'tomato-y' taste. By this she means that you must slowly cook out the tomatoes' acidity or tinniness, allowing their sweetness to emerge."
When you're shopping for soup ingredients, Tucci suggests selecting the best canned tomatoes you can find. Reach for the whole, peeled variety rather than crushed or pureed. For more on Italian food and culture, look for CNN Original Series "Stanley Tucci: Searching for Italy" on demand.
Tuscan Tomato Soup recipe from 'The Tucci Table'
Serves 6 to 8
For the soup:
Two 28-ounce cans San Marzano plum tomatoes
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 small shallot, finely chopped (optional)
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
10 to 12 fresh basil leaves, torn
16 ounces chicken stock, warm
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the croutons:
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
4 cups dry Italian bread, cut into cubes
1. For the soup, empty the tomatoes into a large bowl and crush them with your hands. Set aside.
2. In a large pot, heat 3 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium high heat. Add the onion, shallot, if using, and garlic, and cook until they begin to soften — you do not want them to color. Stir in the tomatoes and two-thirds of the basil leaves and bring the mixture to a boil. Add the chicken stock and return to a boil. Season with salt and pepper, reduce the heat to low, and simmer, covered, for about 40 minutes.
3. For the croutons, in a sauté pan, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over medium heat. Working in batches so as not to crowd the pan, fry the bread cubes until golden brown, setting them aside as you go. When they're all done, drizzle them with the remaining 1 teaspoon olive oil.
4. Serve the finished soup topped with the croutons and garnish with basil. Place the leftover croutons in a serving dish on the table for replenishing.