This week I wanted to talk to you about something a little different. It’s obvious that I can’t be eating veggie burgers all the time and nothing else. The problem is that I love a good burger and fries (especially sweet potato fries), and if I wasn’t eating a bit of variety now and then, I’m pretty sure I’d be the size of a house. That said, this post is not going to dispel that mental image, because I’m going to tell you about my latest obsession: bread bowls.
Realistically speaking, my obsession is actually with home made soup. I can’t get enough of it. I love to make soups at home, and get them to just the right consistency. Normally I’ll start with a base of white beans, sauteed onions, and a tin of chopped tomatoes, followed by various other elements. It will depend on what we have in the house, as well as what I fancy. Our most common variation features sweet potato roasted and then blended, but we’ve also done carrots, and occasionally a soup that doesn’t turn out red. Here’s one of our soups served not in a bread bowl, from Vine:
More commonly, we’ll just stick to tomato flavourings and some herbs, because that’s what we have in. We started all of this when J read about bread bowls on Buzzfeed and started sending me endless links to images of them and recipes. Finally I gave in, figuring it also gave us something great to put on Vine. I guess I was right, as it turned out to be one of our most popular posts! We also used our homemade pesto recipe to add a bit of contrast on top (you can see that being made in this Vine). The extra special touch was stirring in just a few of the beans later on rather than putting them all in the blender. It added to the texture and created a bit of interest.
We also like to use more complicated recipes. In this one I used root vegetables (sweet potato and carrot), which required a lot more preparation beforehand. My favourite thing about homemade soup is the texture. I love it to be really thick and creamy, rather than thin and watery like most store bought soups. It almost becomes a puree the way I do it. If it isn’t creamy or thick enough, I picked up the super useful tip of adding some bread to the mixture. You have some on hand anyway, because you will have taken it out to make the bread bowl. You blend it up, and amazingly it really does make the texture and taste more creamy. If it’s too thick, on the other hand, I simply add water.
Eating bread bowls is not just tasty – it’s fun as well. You get all of the little bits of bread to dip in first of all, which takes up the top layer of soup. Then you can start breaking off the sides of the bowl to dip in and eat! This is another reason why I like the soup to be nice and thick – it means that you can scoop out one side and eat that part of the bread first, without having to worry about your soup dripping everywhere. We even tried it with a baguette, and it worked just as well! This one really does look like a boat, with some Quorn chorizo sausages and cheese spread out across the top.
I find it works best with a cheesy bread, but you can go for something a little healthier if you like. We make an effort to go for wholemeal or other types of bread a lot of the time just to cut down on the calories a bit. The good news is that the soup itself is usually super healthy (I hardly add any oil to the onions, and the only other thing added is herbs), so you can allow yourself to be a little bit naughty. I’ve included a recipe below so that you can try this out for yourself.
- Bread (large enough to serve soup)
- 1 tin chopped tomatoes
- 1 red onion
- 1 tin cannellini beans
- 1 clove garlic OR splash of garlic oil
- Italian pasta herbs
- Fresh basil
- Chop the onion, drain the beans, and open the tomatoes.
- Put the garlic and herbs into the pan and heat with the onion.
- Add 2/3 beans and heat until the onion is slightly soft.
- Put into blender with more herbs and fresh basil.
- Add chopped tomatoes and continue to blend.
- When all beans and onions are broken up, assess the texture. Add bread to make it thicker, or water to thin it out.
- Meanwhile, use a bread knife to cut the top off your bread bowls.
- Scoop out the inside of the bread and transfer to a small bowl for each person. Leave enough thickness around the sides that the bread will not break or seep, but make a large hole.
- Transfer the mixture back into the pan and add the remaining 1/3 beans.
- Stir over a medium heat.
- When the mixture starts peeling back from the sides of the pan, it is ready! (if you have made it thinner, you may judge by the soup starting to boil).
- Ladle gradually into the bread bowls, taking care not to spill any. Add a fresh basil leaf on top.
- Close the lid of the bread to serve!
- You can have fun with the ingredients here. Add in vegetables like carrots, sweet potato, and parsnips after baking, or try fresh tomatoes instead of chopped. You can top with cheese or sour cream for a contrasting taste, or a dollop of pesto.
- Chop up sausages for an extra level of flavour and texture. Spinach or rocket can be wilted and then blended in, although beware of the colour of your soup!