26-27: Country Loaf with Cream of Broccoli Soup

Since my last bread-making adventure, I’ve really wanted to have soup and fresh bread for dinner. I even have 3 soups on my list of “things I want to make.”

I’m not entirely sure how to choose good bread recipes. After all, they all largely depend on the same ingredients – flour, water, and yeast – in varying quantities. You can also add butter or oil, salt, milk, and/or eggs, to change the texture. I really enjoyed the French Bread I made before, though, so I wanted to stick with a similar, simple recipe – flour, yeast, water and salt.

I have a bread cookbook that I don’t particularly like, mostly because all the recipes call for margarine or butter. I don’t think I should need that in every single bread! I settled on making a Country Loaf from my Betty Crocker Cookbook. The recipe was simple – yeast, water, salt, some oil added later, and much more flour than was required for French Bread. It said I could use whole-wheat flour for part of it, so I did.

It required making a sponge (small amount of flour mixed with yeast and water), and after an hour adding the rest of the ingredients to make a dough. My friend Jason had said that I could start bread the day before I wanted it and let it have a long, slow rise in the refrigerator – and Alton Brown does a similar thing with his pizza dough, I believe – so that’s what I did. I kneaded the dough at night, shaped it into a loaf the next morning (not too bad since I’m becoming more and more a morning person), and stashed the loaf in the fridge until I got home from work. This loaf was HUGE when I took it out to bake it.

This Country Loaf was huge!

I baked it the minimum time (35 minutes instead of 40), and cut it while still hot since my soup was ready. The bread definitely tasted good, and was tender, but it was moister overall than I really had expected or wanted. I think this was due to the whole-wheat flour, which I’ve heard absorbs more water than normal all-purpose flour. The bread didn’t really fit on a plate, so I cut some of it in pieces to make the rest of the loaf fit. Once it was cool, I covered it with foil to keep it from drying out. I think this just had the effect of softening the crust, though. The bread was still good when I took it to work with me the next day – still tender – but overall it wasn’t quite how I had hoped it would be.

Country Loaf, in easily-managed pieces

*****

As I looked for Cream of Broccoli Soup recipes, I realized once again how strange a word ‘broccoli’ is. I always want to misspell it, and if I look at it for too long, I think it’s spelled wrong even when it’s not.

I wanted a recipe that actually took cream because I actually had cream. I had trouble finding one! Ironically, whenever I want a creamy recipe that calls for milk, I only find recipes that take cream. Maybe there’s some search engine demon haunting me. There’s also a ton of broccoli soup recipes that take cheese. In any case, I found 4 recipes, and decided on one when it was time to cook.

I went for one that would hopefully be very broccoli-like – Creamy Broccoli Soup from the Minimalist food blog at NYTimes.com. I doubled it because I wanted to use all the broccoli I had. He had a variation which I thought would be good – adding potato and onion – so that’s what I did. [As I look at it again, though, perhaps he meant substituting the potato and onion instead of adding it to the broccoli. I find it hard to tell.]

Creamy Broccoli Soup

I’ve made broccoli soup before with potatoes in it, but I’ve always been a little disappointed. This soup was good, simple cream and broccoli. It definitely has its place, but I think that in general I prefer soups that taste more ‘green’. The soups featuring broccoli that I’ve liked the best in the past have always involved combining broccoli and spinach, or basil, or browning the broccoli in a skillet first. I usually want something with a little more kick for a meal.

Perhaps this recipe is best saved to use as a precursor to a meal, rather than the meal itself. That’s what I’m going to be using it as. There’s a lot of it left.

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