Sunday Supper: Artisan Bread with Leftover Soup

The date: Sunday, January 23, 2011

The menu: Rustic Boule (Artisan Free-From Loaf) with Farro and Chickpea soup from Saturday

The cookbooks: Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois, and Vegetable Soups from Deborah Madison’s Kitchen

This post feels like a cop out. Sunday supper is supposed to be about trying a new recipe and usually entails putting together some elaborate meal that I just wouldn’t have time to put together on a week night. But, not all Sundays work out that way and today is one of them. Tonight, I’m going to see my sister Rachel make some music, so I’m going to eat some leftover soup for dinner. There’s always time for baking a little bread though.

Most of you know by now that I’ve been baking my own bread every week for a few years. I practically wore out my Kneadlessly Simple bread cookbook as I tried to bake as many of the bread recipes in it as I could. I’ve got the timing down, putting the dough together is old hat, and I end up with a delicious, moist loaf of bread just about every time now. But even though I was completely satisfied with my bread making routine, I was always curious about the Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day thing. The appeal for me was simple – a bread with little effort and hands on time like the kneadless breads I know and love, but with the convenience of baking a loaf on the fly. I knew it was something I had to try.

I’m still learning. This method, while also kneadless, is quite different than the other process and I’m still working on getting the correct moisture ratio down. In a nutshell, with this bread, you make a big batch of dough that yields about four rustic loaves and you store it in the fridge until you’re ready to bake. It will keep for about two weeks and the work you have to do on the day you decide to bake a loaf is minimal, so it’s doable on a week night. I have to admit that after making four so-so loaves out of my first batch of dough, I was tempted to go back to my old stand-by, but I decided to give it another chance. And I’m starting to see some improvement. I’ve vowed to stick with this book for a while until I get the hang of it. I am by no means abandoning all my old ways, but a fresh perspective can be good every now and then.

Farro and Chickpea Soup, for winter
Adapted from Vegetable Soups by Deborah Madison

I love this soup. It is so simple and hearty – the perfect thing for a dark, January evening. The original recipe suggests putting a chunk of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese rind into the soup when you add the farro. Deborah also suggests grating some of said cheese on top of the final product, but since I’m dairy-free these days, I skipped those steps. There’s a delicious summer version of this soup with tomatoes in this cookbook too, but we’ll get to that when the time is right.

Yields about 7 cups.

1 1/2 cups farro, soaked for an hour or longer in cold water
1 onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh rosemary
1 plump garlic clove, peeled
6 cups vegetable stock or water
2 cups chickpeas, cooked (or one 15oz. can)
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
olive oil

Drain the farro. Heat some olive oil in a wide soup pot and add the onion and rosemary. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the onion has softened but not browned, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, drained farro, and broth. Bring to a boil, then cover the pan and simmer until the farro is tender, about 20 minutes (or 40 minutes if you forgot to soak the farro ahead of time like I did).

If using canned chickpeas, strain the liquid into the soup. Cover the chickpeas with cool water, gently rub them together to loosen the skins, and discard them as they float to the surface. Then add the skinned chickpeas to the soup. According to Deborah, they taste better and look nicer this way. I agree.

Taste for salt and season with pepper. Ladle the soup into bowls and serve with big hunks of crunchy artisan bread. Enjoy!

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