A few days ago I made some whole wheat yeast bread. It's been a number of years since I made yeast bread, and I made a few mistakes. So what I ended up with was a good tasting bread that rose, but fell during the baking process. I'm a good cook and can make terrific quick breads, but yeast breads have always been tricky for me.
I was talking to Lydia, the Amish farmwife we visit, and she confesses to messing up with bread too--especially whole wheat bread. I was glad to hear that others have the same sorts of problems I do. Makes me feel a tad less like an idiot.
At any rate, what to do with this weird bread? It tasted fine, so I didn't want to give it to the ducks or the dogs or even my compost. I then remembered a recipe for a basic Italian bread soup, I believe from Tuscany. Here's my basic recipe:
Tuscan Bread Soup
1 onion, chopped
6 cloves garlic minced (we like garlic, you can use as much or little as you like)
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 can chicken broth (or homemade stock if you have it)
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can chili beans (or black beans, white beans or no beans)
handful of lambsquarters leaves (or any green you have on hand)
chunks of bread--toasted first if you prefer
oregano, thyme, parsley, lemon pepper, hot red pepper flakes
First, remember this is a soup. Soups are the ultimate in flexible cooking. Whatever you've got handy is what you add to the soup. The basic recipe here is bread, tomatoes and water or broth. It can be as simple or as complex as you want. I wanted a tomato-y, brothy yet filling soup with lots of herbs in it. So that's what I did, but you can do it however you want. If you have some stale bread that you don't want to toss, this is a nice warming soup for wintertime. It tastes great and the hot pepper flakes will make sure it warms you.
Saute the onions, garlic and celery in a tablespoon or so of oil. Add the chicken broth, some water, diced tomatoes, beans, greens if you've got some, Italian herbs whichever you prefer, a bouillon cube if you want to enhance the flavor, and bread. In about a half hour, you've got a good soup. Serve it with some parmesean cheese sprinkled on top. YUM.
Here's the basic recipe. Add what you like, but the tomatoes and the bread make this soup what it is. Enjoy.HM