Today I wanted to share a bread soup recipe with you that is not only fantastically delicious but is very simple as well, using only a few ingredients.
Not only does soup make for a very nourishing meal, but it is also a great way to use up bits of things in the kitchen that might otherwise be thrown away. Things like stale bread that you might deem only worthy of feeding to the birds. So long as it isn’t moldy, it is perfect for dishes such as this incredibly tasty soup!
It is also a recipe that makes great use of store cupboard ingredients. At the moment we need recipes like this more than ever. All you will need for this recipe is chicken stock cubes or pots, dried chili flakes, dried parsley, refrigerated or fresh crushed garlic, good olive oil and several slices of stale bread.
Recipes like this bread soup are the type of recipes I find incredibly inspiring. Being able to feed my family something nutritious and delicious from just about nothing or from very simple ingredients always makes me feel good as a home cook. Its really quite amazing how big, bold, and nourishing a pot of soup you can create using very few ingredients.
Using bread or potato as a thickener for soups is not a new thing. It is something that our grandmothers have been doing for years.
When you think about it, the Spanish have used bread to make their very delicious Gazpacho so using bread for this is really quite a natural thing. This is a soup that is very popular in Italy and there are as many version of it in Italy as there are good cooks.
It goes without saying that the kind of bread you choose to use in this soup is quite important. I like to use a good sourdough, or country style of bread for this, with a rustic texture.
A good homemade bread also works well. I do not recommend a store-bought sliced white loaf of bread as it might have a tendency to become glue-like. Use as good a bread as you can find.
You will need to remove the crusts from the bread. (The birds can have those.) Tear the bread into chunks and then blitz it into coarse crumbs in a food processor. You don’t want your crumbs to be too small, neither do you want them to be overly large.
Once blitzed, the bread gets browned lightly in a quantity of olive oil along with crushed garlic and fresh parsley. Use good olive oil if you can. There are so few ingredients in this dish, you really want to be using the best that you can get your hands on.
I used a good Italian extra virgin olive oil. Heat the oil in a heavy based saucepan with a lid, and then add the dried crushed chili flakes to this. I recommend using about ½ teaspoon, but of course, if you want your soup to have more of a bite, you can add more.
I like to err on the side of caution myself. If you have fresh or refrigerated garlic and fresh parsley add them to the oil as well, and cook, stirring everything for, cooking for about half a minute, just until you can smell the garlic.
Don’t let the garlic burn as it will become bitter. Bitter or burnt garlic is quite unpalatable. Toss in the breadcrumbs. Cook and stir until they begin to crisp up and turn a pale golden color. Again, do not let them burn.
Once that has happened you can start adding the chicken stock. I have used gel pots which are widely available here in the UK for the stock today, but bouillon cubes also work well, as do vacuum-packed tetra bricks of stock, which many keep in their store cupboard, or frozen stock, etc.
Make sure it is hot, whichever you choose to use. If you are using dried parsley, this is where you want to add it. There will be appreciably more stock used than what you see in the photo here. I just thought it would be more interesting to see a photograph at this stage.
Once you have added all the hot stock, that is pretty much all you need to do. Cover the saucepan and simmer the soup over low heat for about half an hour.
At the end of that time you should have a soup that looks roughly like this. If you think it is too thick, you can add more stock. It will smell simply heavenly. It is a robust soup and quite flavourful. Taste and adjust the seasoning as desired with some salt and black pepper.
Your soup is now ready to be served and ladled into heated soup bowls. Traditionally I have always topped it with some freshly grated Parmesan cheese which adds a lovely touch both in flavour and interest.
Most things are a little bit better with some cheese I find. Its like the bacon of the dairy world. If you don’t have Parmesan, use a good strong cheddar.
I have not tried this with vegetarian stock, but I think if you wanted to keep it totally vegetarian you could easily get away with using both a vegetarian stock and cheese. It will still be delicious.
Recipes such as this bread soup have been the backbone of family kitchens for many years. Why mess with perfection! This soup is a wonderful testimony to those great and stalwart cooks of our past who knew exactly how to create something delicious out of very little!
- 4 thick slices of stale country style bread, good quality, crusts removed
- 5 TBS extra virgin olive oil
- ½ tsp crushed dried chilies
- 3 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
- 2 TBS chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
- 6 ½ cups hot chicken stock
- Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Freshly grated parmesan cheese to serve
- Crumble your bread into bits and then blitz them in a food processor for a couple of seconds until you get a coarse crumb.
- Heat the olive oil, dried chilies, garlic and parsley in a heavy-bottomed saucepan.
- Sauté for about 30 seconds until you can smell the garlic.
- Tip in the breadcrumbs and cook, stirring frequently, for 3 to 4 minutes, until the bread begins to turn golden brown. Add the hot stock.
- Cover and simmer for about half an hour.
- Taste the soup and adjust seasonings as desired. Serve ladled into heated soup bowls and pass the grated cheese for sprinkling on top.
In desperate times you can use other forms of garlic, such as garlic powder or paste, and pre-crushed refrigerated garlic. You may also use dried flat-leaf parsley if that is all you can get, 1 TBS.
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Marie Rayner is a retired Chef, freelance writer, recipe developer, food blogger, and Cookbook author. She makes her home in Chester, UK, where she lives with her husband, Todd, and their much beloved English Cocker, Mitzie. Her motto is “Life is far too short to eat bad food,” and her goal is to share delicious and easy recipes which anyone can enjoy and cook in the comfort of their own home.