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Beatrice Ojakangas column: What makes soup season better? Bread bowls

Not only are they easy on the cook and easy on the budget, soups are easy to serve, nutritious and appealing to the taste buds of almost everyone.

Yellow soup in bread bowl garnished with herbs
Broccoli and Cauliflower Cheddar Soup.
Contributed / Susanna Ojakangas
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We’ve come through April showers and May flowers, June, July and August. Where did the summer go? I think I spent all these months waiting for it while the rest of the country was burning up, and I was on the verge of putting on my Cuddl Duds. Now we’re in the season of goldenrod and tansy. It is time to wake up from the “COVID sleep,” even though it will probably always be with us, thanks to the anti-vaxxers.

Beatrice Ojakangas
Beatrice Ojakangas

That said, I’m making soups again. My Soup and Bread Cookbook came out in fall 2020 and from that point on, we had little or no contact with the public. Now we’re in a “belt-tightening phase," so I feel that soups will be the order of the day.

Not only are they easy on the cook and easy on the budget, soups are easy to serve, nutritious and appealing to the taste buds of almost everyone. I love to serve soups in homemade bread bowls.

In my book, I suggest Broccoli and Cauliflower Soup with Rye Pretzels; however, now I am suggesting instead that we make bowls for the soup instead of pretzels.

Homemade Bread Bowls

  • 2 packages (or 2 scant tablespoons) active dry yeast
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 3 cups warm water (105-115 degrees)
  • About 6 cups bread flour

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

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Ladling yellow soup from pot into bread bowl
Beatrice Ojakangas ladles soup into a bread bowl.
Contributed / Susanna Ojakangas

In a large mixing bowl, measure the yeast, sugar and salt. Slowly add the water and stir to mix. Gradually stir in half the flour and beat until smooth. Gradually mix in the remaining flour until a soft dough forms.

Turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Let rise for 45 minutes to one hour until the dough is about doubled in size.

Cut into six equal parts and shape each part into a smooth round ball. Place each ball well separated on one or two cookie sheets. Let rise until puffy, about 45 minutes to one hour. Slash a cross on top of each risen ball of dough. Bake for 20 minutes until golden and crusty.

Cool and slice the top off of each loaf. Scoop out the soft interior to make a bowl. (The scooped-out bread is wonderful when dipped into any soup left in the pot).

Makes six servings.

Broccoli and Cauliflower Cheddar Soup

Yellow soup in bread bowl garnished with herbs and broccoli
A plated bread bowl of Broccoli and Cauliflower Cheddar Soup, garnished with herbs and broccoli.
Contributed / Susanna Ojakangas

Broccoli and cauliflower are cruciferous vegetables loaded with vitamins, minerals and fiber. That puts them into the “super vegetable” category. You may not fit all of the soup in the bread bowls, but consider just dipping the bread that you pull out of the loaves in the remaining soup. This is a “casual” dining experience!

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon caraway seeds, crushed
  • 6 medium baking potatoes, about 2 pounds, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 4 cups chicken stock or broth
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 cups bite-sized broccoli florets
  • 3 cups bite-sized cauliflower florets
  • ½ cup heavy cream or undiluted evaporated milk
  • 6 ounces (about 1 cup) shredded cheddar cheese
  • 6 hollowed-out baked bread bowls
  • Fresh herbs for garnish

Melt the butter in a soup pot over medium heat. Add the onions and caraway seeds and cook until the onions are tender, about five minutes. Add the potatoes, stock and bay leaf and simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes.
Add the broccoli and cauliflower and simmer until just tender, about 10 minutes. Add the cream or milk and cheddar cheese and stir until blended. Discard the bay leaf and ladle into the soup bowls and garnish with fresh herbs and serve hot.

Makes six servings.

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Perfumed with cinnamon, coriander and cumin, this chunky vegetable soup is fun to serve in bread bowls. This serves about 12 people, so make a double batch of the bread bowls. Even though this soup has an impressive list of ingredients, you basically just put them all into the pot and cook until the vegetables are tender.

  • 3 cups vegetable or chicken broth
  • 4 cups fresh cut-up bell peppers, a mix of colors
  • 3 cups diced red potatoes
  • 2 cups sliced carrots
  • 3 cups diced fresh tomatoes
  • 2 cups coarsely chopped onions
  • 1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 3 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon sugar
  • Dash of cayenne pepper
  • 2 cups broccoli florets
  • 2 cups cauliflower florets
  • 1 can (15 ounces) chickpeas or garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup diced zucchini
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • Chopped fresh mint for garnish

In a large pot, combine the first 15 ingredients. Bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook, partially covered, until the potatoes and carrots are tender, about 30 minutes.
Stir in the broccoli, cauliflower, chickpeas and zucchini. Simmer until the vegetables are fork tender, but not mushy. Taste and add the lemon juice; correct the seasonings if needed.

Ladle into the bread bowls and garnish with chopped fresh mint. Serve any extra soup separately using bread from the bowls to sop up the juices.

Stone Soup

Another favorite autumn soup is one that we used for years in the fall. To get students together we would invite them to our house and ask each one to bring a cupful of chopped fresh vegetables for “stone soup” — so appropriate for the geology department at the University of Minnesota Duluth, where my husband, Dick, taught for 38 years.

They were totally free to bring any fresh vegetable and we guaranteed that they would not make a mistake — even if everybody ended up bringing carrots! All we asked is that they would have cleaned, peeled and chopped them up.

As the students arrived, I had a pot of billing broth or water going, and they would add their contribution to it. The soup is inspired by the classic folktale, which is always nice to tell while the soup simmers. One other bonus is that if each person brings a cup of vegetables, there will be enough for everyone to enjoy.

We served the finished soup with freshly baked bread and butter. A fun time was had by all! Make a double batch of bread bowls — you may have a couple extra bowls left over.

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There are many versions of the “stone soup” story. I give one story in my "Soup and Bread Cookbook," but if you google "Stone Soup" you will get many more. All of them emphasize the fact that by working together, good things can happen.

So here is the basic recipe for the soup geared to serving 10 guests. It is perfect to serve the soup in bread bowls.

  • 1 clean stone, such as a smooth granite or basalt, 3-4 inches in diameter, scrubbed clean
  • 4 quarts basic vegetable broth, chicken stock or beef stock, either homemade or purchased
  • 10 cups chopped vegetables such as potatoes, onions, carrots, parsnips, rutabaga or celery
  • 2 batches of homemade bread bowls (optional)
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, plus chopped fresh herbs
  • Shredded cheese, any favorite variety

Place the stone in a large pot. Add the broth or water and bring to a boil.
Reduce the heat to a simmer and add the vegetables in any order. Cook until all the vegetables are fork-tender — the “magic moment” when the soup come together and all the vegetables are done. This can take from one to two hours.

Ladle into soup bowls (or homemade bread bows) and invite guests to top their soup with chopped fresh herbs and shredded cheese.

Beatrice Ojakangas is a Duluth food writer and author of 31 cookbooks. Find her online at  beatrice-ojakangas.com.

Related Topics: FOODRECIPES
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