Sometimes the simplest meals turn out to be the most memorable. While it can be satisfying and fun to spend time preparing numerous courses for a meal, the simplicity of made-from-scratch soup and bread is unparalleled. Of course you can skip the homemade bread and rely on a good quality, rustic loaf from a local bakery. But making your own yeasted or quick bread is not difficult, especially if you follow our recipe for no-knead whole wheat bread, which is quite literally the easiest bread anyone can make. Here are a few recipes for soup and bread that you might find inspiring.
Butternut Squash Soup with Goat Cheese Croutons
Adapted from Siren Hall
1 large butternut squash, cut in half length-wise
2 tablespoons butter
1 large onion, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1/2 teaspoon dried ginger
1 – 2 tablespoons honey
Sea salt and white pepper to taste
1/4 cup heavy cream
- Heat oven to 375°F. Place squash halves on a lightly oiled baking sheet and bake for 45 minutes or until squash is soft when pricked with a knife. Let cool. Scoop out seeds and pulp and discard. Scoop out flesh and reserve in a bowl.
- In a large soup pot melt the butter. Add onion and celery and cook until softened, about 8 minutes. Add squash, stock, ginger, and honey and bring to a simmer. Cook for about 30 minutes.
- Using a hand-held immersion blender, blend soup until smooth. Blend in cream and salt and pepper to taste. Serve with goat cheese croutons.
Goat Cheese Croutons
1/4 cup flour
1 tablespoon soft butter
4 oz soft goat cheese
1 egg white, beaten lightly
Course sea salt
- In a medium bowl or food processor, combine flour, butter, and goat cheese into a smooth dough. Roll the mixture into a log about as wide as a quarter coin. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap or wax paper and refrigerate until firm.
- Heat oven to 375°F. Cut the logs into slices approximately 1/4-inch thick. Brush with the egg white and sprinkle with salt. Place goat cheese coins on a rimmed cookie sheet and bake about 15 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from oven, cool, and serve atop butternut squash soup.
Winter Vegetable Soup with Dumplings
From Rachel Ray
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 stalks celery, chopped
2 onions, chopped
4 carrots, peeled and diced small
1 potato, peeled and diced small
1 rutabaga, peeled and diced small
1 bay leaf
Salt and pepper
2 quarts vegetable or chicken stock
4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons flour
1 rounded tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons parsley, finely chopped
1 cup frozen peas
1 teaspoon tarragon
- Heat a large, heavy soup pot over medium heat and add the oil. When the oil is hot, add the celery, onions, carrots, potato, rutabaga, bay leaf, salt and pepper. Stir and cover, about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the stock, raise the heat to bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low to keep a rolling simmer.
- Melt the butter in a small pot and combine with the flour and Dijon mustard to make a roux. Whisk the roux into the soup. Stir the peas and tarragon into the soup. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Use 2 teaspoons to drop small, walnut-sized dumplings into the soup. Don’t crowd the dumplngs. Cover the pot with the lid. Cook for 6 minutes, then uncover and check that the dumplings are firm. Ladle the soup into bowls, sprinkle with parsley, and serve immediately.
2 cups Arrowhead Mills Baking Mix
2/3 cup milk
Stir together baking mix and milk in a medium bowl until a soft dough forms.
Beef Barley Soup
1 tablespoon lard, bacon fat, or butter
1 large carrot, diced
1 large onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1 cup frozen green beans, thawed
½ cup frozen peas, thawed
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
1-1/2 lbs beef round stew meat, cut into small pieces
6 cups beef broth, preferably home made
sea salt and black pepper to taste
2 bay leaves
1/2 cup dry pearl barley, soaked overnight
- Rinse barley in a sieve; place drained barley in a pot with water to cover and a generous sprinkling of salt. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and cook for 30 minutes or until barley is tender. Drain.
- While barley is cooking, heat the fat in a large soup pot over medium heat and sauté onion, carrot and celery for 5 minutes until onion is translucent.
- Pour in the beef broth and stir in the tomato paste, vinegar, and bay leaves. Bring to a boil. Stir in the beef, beans, peas, and salt to taste. Return to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 25-30 minutes. Add the barley and cook until barley is heated through. Taste and add additional salt and pepper.
Potato Sausage & Cabbage Soup
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, diced medium
1 stalk celery, diced medium
1 medium carrot, diced medium
1/3 head green cabbage, coarsely chopped
1 large russet potato, peeled, diced medium
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 lb smoked sausage such as kielbasa, sliced
4 cups chicken broth
sea salt and black pepper to taste
handful chopped parsley
- In a large soup pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion, celery, and carrot. Season with salt and cook, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes.
- Add the cabbage, potatoes, broth, bay leaf, and thyme, to the pot. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, stirring occasionally, until the cabbage and potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes.
- While soup is simmering, brown the sausage in a cast iron pan. Remove the sausage from the pan and drain on paper towels. Just before serving, remove the bay leaf from the soup and stir in the sausage and parsley. Season with salt and pepper. Serves 4.
Curried Red Lentil Soup
2 cups red lentils
4 cups vegetable or chicken broth
4 cups water
1 large onion, diced small
4 celery stalks, diced small
2 large carrots, diced small
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon curry powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
sea salt and white pepper to taste
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
- Bring lentils, broth, and 4 cups water to a simmer in large pot. Skim away foam that rises to top. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add onion, celery, carrots, and garlic; simmer, uncovered, 20 minutes. Add curry powder, and cumin, and cook 20 minutes more, or until lentils are soft. Season with salt and pepper and add cilantro, if desired, and stir in lemon juice.
No Knead Whole Wheat Bread
4 cups whole wheat flour or 2 cups whole wheat and 2 cups whole rye flour
2 teaspoons sea salt
1 teaspoon active dry yeast
2 cups room temperature water
- In a large bowl mix the flour, salt and yeast together using a whisk. Pour the water into the bowl and mix with a wooden spoon until all the flour is incorporated. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it sit overnight or for at least 12 and up to 18 hours.
- Place a cast iron pot with lid or 5 qt Dutch oven with lid in the oven and heat oven to 475°F.
- Generously sprinkle a work surface with flour. Scoop out the dough from the bowl onto the floured surface and sprinkle with a little more flour. Knead the dough for about 30-60 seconds and shape it into a smooth ball. Carefully remove the heated pot from the oven and remove the lid from it. Take the ball of dough and drop it into the pot. Cover the pot and place it back in the oven.
- Bake for 30 minutes. Remove the lid and bake for another 10-12 minutes until golden brown. Remove pot from oven and let cool a few minutes. Remove the bread from the pot with a large metal spatula or using oven mitts and let cool on a rack.
Cornmeal Cheddar Bacon Muffins
5 – 6 slices bacon
1 cup white spelt flour or all-purpose flour
1 cup cornmeal
2 tablespoons cane sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup milk
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, cooled slightly (replace some of this with melted bacon fat if desired)
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- Heat the oven to 400°F. Spray a regular-size muffin pan with cooking spray.
- Cook bacon until crispy. Chop and set aside.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the milk, melted butter, and eggs until well blended. Pour the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix until combined. Fold in the bacon and cheddar cheese. Divide batter evenly among the muffin cups.
- Bake for 15 minutes, or until the tops are golden and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool muffins for 5 minutes before removing from pan.
Buckwheat Currant Pecan Bread
2 ½ cups unbleached flour
2 cups buckwheat flour
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
½ cup currants
½ cup pecan pieces
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 3/4 cups milk
2 teaspoons cider vinegar
- Preheat oven to 425°F. Whisk together flours, salt, and baking soda in a large mixing bowl.
- Work butter into flour mixture using your hands until it resembles coarse meal, then stir in the currants and pecans.
- Make a well in the center of the flour mixture. Whisk together the milk, vinegar, maple syrup, and egg and pour this into the well. Mix with a wooden spoon until dough becomes stiff.
- Dust hands with flour, then knead dough in the bowl just long enough to form a rough ball. Add a bit more flour if dough is too sticky.
- Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface and shape into a round loaf. Avoid over kneading.
- Place on a lightly greased baking sheet. Score top of dough about an inch deep in an X shape.
- Bake 35 minutes until golden or until a skewer inserted in the bread comes out clean. Let cool about 10 minutes before slicing. Serve with butter and jam.
Irish Soda Bread
4 cups all-purpose unbleached flour
3 tablespoons cane sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon sea salt
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups currants
1 tablespoon caraway seeds
2 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
- In a large bowl, combine the first five ingredients. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in the currants and caraway seeds.
- Beat the eggs and set aside 1 tablespoon beaten egg.
- Combine the buttermilk and remaining beaten eggs; stir into crumb mixture just until flour is moistened (dough will be sticky). Turn onto a well-floured surface; knead about 10 times, adding extra flour as needed. Shape into a ball.
- Place in a greased round 9-inch baking pan. Cut an “X” in the center of the ball. Brush the top with reserved egg.
- Bake at 350°F for 1 hour and 20 minutes until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cover loosely with foil during the last 20 minutes if top browns too quickly. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan to a wire rack to cool completely.