During the winter months, we always have soup and bread on Friday night. This tradition began when we moved to New Mexico, I became a stay-at-home mom and actually began regular cooking again. (In Missouri Prince Charming was in graduate school while I worked full-time. He did a lot of the “cooking” then.)
Friday nights are quiet at our house. Sabbath begins at sundown, and the pace changes. It is my favorite time of the week. Probably the entire 24 hours until sundown on Saturday night is my favorite period of the week, but Friday night is especially slow and quiet–a true blessing. (And it is host to the bath.)
Because Friday nights are special, I like to make something special for dinner. It cannot be complicated, however, because I also do the cooking for the next day on Friday as well. There just is not enough time to prepare two elaborate meals. So Friday night dinners are simple, but special. That is how the soup and bread tradition came about. All of us love both. If there is not the scent of bread baking in our house on Friday, something is wrong. (Or it is summer, but I usually bake some type of bread then anyway).
Last Friday night I made one of Prince Charming’s favorite soups. I tell you this because it was sort of for his birthday, which was at the beginning of January. Poor guy! If there is anything worse than having a birthday between Thanksgiving and Christmas, it is having one just after Christmas. He always gets the shaft. At the end of November and beginning of December, I had a whole slough of birthdays which got their own blog posts. Did Prince Charming? No! And it had nothing to do with him, but everything to do with when it was. He did not even get his favorite meal until three weeks after his birthday. So I threw in the soup as a bonus later the same week.
So, without further rambling, here are the recipes:
Potato Leek Soup in Bread Bowls
4 lg potatoes, peeled and diced
4 large leeks, sliced
8 c chicken broth
1 tsp salt
1/2 c cream
pepper (optional–I never opt for pepper, but I know a lot of people use it in everything, and it was part of the original recipe)
Bread Bowls: Bowl-size round loaves, unsliced (4-6, depending on how many people you are serving), 2-3 cloves crushed garlic, 4-6 tsp olive oil, 4-6 T graded Parmesan cheese
In a large pot, combine potatoes, leeks, broth, salt and pepper if desired. Heat to boiling over high heat. Reduce to medium-low, cover and simer for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile make bread bowls (recipe below for Italian bread which we love, but you can purchase them ready-made, or you can just serve it with bread on the side): Cut top off of loaves. Hollow out bowls leaving 3/4″. (Reserve leftover bread for croutons or bread crumbs). Rub inside of bread with garlic, brush with olive oil and sprinkle with cheese. Place hollowed out loaves and “lids” on baking sheet and bake in a 350 degree Fahrenheit over for 10 minutes.
Puree soup in batches in a blender or use a hand-blender. (If you don’t have a hand blender and make soup, get one!) Stir in cream. Heat through.
Spoon hot soup into bread bowls and top with parsley as a garnish if desired. Makes 6 servings (with some leftovers for lunch next week!)
(This is our favorite non-flavored bread. I do not make it all the time because it takes a long time, but I have figured out when to start it so that the first rising is while I pick up Chic from school since she gets out at 12:30 on Fridays.)
2-1/2 c warm water (115 degrees F)
2 T active dry yeast (or 2 packets is OK)
8 c all-purpose flour
1 T salt
1 egg white
1 T water
Optional: Butter and cornmeal to put on baking sheet before baking bread
Note: I do this in a Kitchen Aid mixer on Speed 2 with a dough hook. The original directions were not for that; if you do not use a mixer for bread, I am sure you will know how to convert this. And if you use a bread machine, I am sure you can figure that out, too.
Pour warm water into warm mixing bowl; sprinkle with yeast. Let stand for 5 minutes, then stir in 2 cups of flour. Beat well. Add salt and gradually beat in all but 2 cups of the flour. Cover with a clean dish towel and let rest for 10 minutes. Continue mixing gradually adding as much flour as needed. (In my dry, high altitude setting, I can usually add another 1-1/4 – 1-1/2 cups.) Continue kneading for 3-5 minutes after last flour is added. Place dough in a greased bowl, turning to grease the top. Cover with wax paper, then a damp dish cloth, and let rise in a warm place for 1-1/2 hours or until doubled in bulk.
Punch dough down and let rise to double again, about an hour. Turn onto a lightly floured surface and form small, round loaves (for bowls) or longer loaves (10-12″ long). (Since there are 4 of us, when I make this soup, I make 4 bowls with half of the dough and a long loaf with the other half of the dough. Otherwise I make two long loaves.) Place loaves on baking sheets that have been buttered and sprinkled with corn meal (if desired, I never do this anymore). Add 1 Tbls water to egg white and brush top and sides of loaves. To cover, prop up dish towel around and over loaves using glasses OR make a reusable cover by lining the inside of an appropriately-sized box with aluminum foil and storing in a plastic bag to keep clean. (I have to let my bread rise in the oven with a dish of water because of the lack of humidty in this region. Propping up a dish towel with glasses is not feasible for me, so I made the box as described. It works fine. I use it for some of my other bread recipes as well.) Let rise until doubled. I check it after 45-50 minutes which is usually enough, but sometimes it takes longer, depending on how warm the oven has remained.
Place a shallow pan on the bottom rack of the oven; fill with boiling water. Bake loaves in center of oven preheated to 375 degrees F for 20 minutes. Remove and brush with egg white mixture again. Continue baking for 20 mintues longer, or until well-browned and done.
The bread can seem a bit intimidating because of all the steps, but it is really no worse than any other yeast bread if you plan the rising times when you can be doing other things. However, it is not something you can decide late in the day to have for dinner. If you do not eat the extra loave(s), your neighbors will LOVE you if you give a loaf to them, and it freezes splendidly.
Recipe Credits: Soup–Glamour Magazine, about 25 years ago. Bread–not sure.