I’ve been shirking my dinner duties, I know. Sorry. Today I made baked bread soup. Mostly because it sounded so intriguing – don’t you think? You cook down a ton of veg – the usual onion-carrot-celery trio, plus garlic, thin-skinned potatoes, kale, savoy cabbage, tomatoes and smooth white kidney beans – it really is pure virtue in a pot, this. Then you tear up almost half a loaf of crusty bread and poke the pieces in, and refrigerate the lot overnight. I did the whole thing in an enamel-covered cast iron pot – it went from stovetop to fridge, then into the oven the next day. On day 1 it doesn’t seem like all that much, but overnight it morphs into something much better, and then when you bake it uncovered rather than reheat it on the stovetop, it gets all crusty around the edges, almost like a casserole. I thought it needed some freshly grated Parmesan on top – don’t you agree?
The original called for 1 lb of dried white kidney beans, which are soaked, simmered, and then partly pureed. You could do this, of course. But I don’t want to turn you off at the prospect of having to soak and cook your beans before even starting on your “soup”, which then must sit in wait for a night before you can bake it. You could of course start with dried beans if you like.
It’s like a big ol’ salad, condensed and warmed up for winter. If you’re the type to crumble crackers into your soup and won’t be too upset at not being able to actually slurp it, you’ll love it.
In other news, this site has expanded a little. Dinner with Julie is now a citizen of the Republic of Facebook. All the cool kids were doing it, and I succumbed to peer pressure. That’s right, I have another page to update. It will be like Dinner with Julie Lite®. I do like the idea of posting little snippets and links and photos here and there in between the bigger posts, which I’m hoping will go back to being more dinner-oriented. I have some ideas. Stay tuned.
Tuscan Baked Bread Soup
adapted from Saveur, Issue #46
canola or olive oil
2 onions, peeled and chopped
2 carrots, peeled and thickly sliced
2 celery ribs, thickly sliced
2 thin-skinned potatoes, chopped
1 large bunch swiss chard or kale, ribs removed and leaves torn or coarsely chopped
1/2 small savoy cabbage, cored and coarsely chopped
1 796 mL can whole plum tomatoes, undrained
1 L chicken or vegetable stock
3 thick slices day-old country-style crusty white bread
1 19 oz (540 mL) can white kidney or navy beans, drained
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat a good drizzle of oil over medium heat and saute the onions for about 10 minutes, until soft. Add carrots, celery, potatoes, chard and cabbage. Add tomatoes and stock, cover, and cook for about an hour, until everything is soft.
Tear the bread into chunks and add it to the pot, along with the beans. Cool completely and refrigerate.
The next day, preheat oven to 375º. Heat the leftover soup in the casserole in the oven, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until heated through, about 1 hour. For the last 30 minutes, do not stir; let soup brown lightly. If you like, top it with some Parmesan cheese. Drizzle with olive oil and serve.