It has been at least eight years since we’ve had REAL snow in Nashville, the kind that starts in the morning as flurries and builds throughout the day, big fat clusters tumbling down, blanketing the trees, the front yards, the roads, diffusing light, muffling sound…. ultimately bringing the city to a standstill.
Wow. It got really quiet.
And, while I was home, cozy (and succumbing to a headcold), I decided to enjoy the snowy shut-down by making simple comforts: bread and soup.
I had enough of the necessary ingredients: and handful of vegetables for the soup pot, some flour and an unexpired package of dry yeast for bread. These are, after all, basic foods.
With broccoli as the star, mirepoix the reliable supporting players, and potatoes comprising the creamy base, it doesn’t take long to make this hearty soup. It also isn’t essential that you add any dairy to achieve richness, although a modest cupful of lowfat milk added at the end is rather nice. A few shavings of sharp white cheddar, too.
But this is a much lighter version of Broccoli-Cheddar that is often served out in the world, all floury and cheesy and fat-laden.
The potatoes add the creaminess, body to the soup. As they cook along, they all but disappear.
like under a blanket of snow.
Chunks of potatoes will break down, adding flavor and body to the soup.
The soup is beginning to thicken, a good time to add the broccoli florets.
Creamy Broccoli Soup
3 T. Olive Oil
4 medium Russet Potatoes, peeled and diced
1 head Broccoli, stems and florets separated, stems chopped
2 medium Onions, chopped
3 Carrots, chopped
3 Celery, chopped
3 cloves Garlic, minced
3 1/2 qts. vegetable stock, or water
Salt-n-Peppa to taste
1 cup lowfat Milk
1/2 cup shredded Vermont Cheddar
Warm olive oil in a stockpot on medium heat. SautÃ© the diced potatoes for 5 minutes. Add broccoli stems and the mirepoix (carrots-onions-celery) and stir into the mix, sauteing another 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and season with salt and black pepper.
The vegetables will begin to soften, and stick to the bottom and sides of the pot. Keep stirring, then add the vegetable stock (or water)
The soup will get a glazy thickness to it. Add the broccoli florets to cook into the batch last. Once they are softened, taste for salt and pepper. Stir in a cup of milk and some shredded Vermont Cheddar for added dairy richness and tang.
And now, for the bread part…….
The thing about bread is Time.
That’s all. And it’s not time where You are actually doing anything—it’s the yeast that’s doing all the work. After you mix up the dough, you just have to check in on periodically, give it a punch, knead it and leave it be. And, put it in the oven to bake.
So, I amend that—it’s really about Patience. It’s worth it. I would like to bake bread more than I do—I am not mindful enough to put it into the plan of a day. And while the recipe for this Rosemary Cracked Wheat Bread is not exceptional, I share it to encourage you.(and myself!) It’s not hard. It’s fun. And, delicious. Just simply to get in the kitchen and bake!
Serve the crusty loaf warm, with a slap of butter on it.
Or, get out your fave olive oil, dress it up with a few strips of sundried tomatoes, polka dots of balsamic….carve a little parmegiano-reggiano….
Rosemary-Cracked Wheat Bread
1 cup warm Water
1 package Active Dry Yeast
1 T. sugar
2 t. Sea Salt
2 T. Olive Oil
1 cup Cracked Wheat Flour
1 1/2 -2 cups Unbleached White Flour
2 T. chopped fresh Rosemary
Stir yeast and sugar into warm water. Yeast will begin to activate–bubble. Add salt and olive oil. Add cracked wheat flour and at least 1 cup of the unbleached white flour and make a soft dough. (add more white flour if necessary.) Knead until elastic. Form into a ball and place into a bowl. Cover with a damp cloth and allow to rise in a warm place for an hour. Punch down again, reform into a ball.
Score with a knife, sort of criss-cross fashion.
Brush with olive oil, sprinkle with coarse sea salt and chopped rosemary.
Let rise for another 45 minutes.
Bake at 375 degrees for 35-40 minutes. Crust with be nicely golden and the bread will “thunk.”