Who doesn't like soup? I believe that someday I will publish a book just on the soup creations I come up with. They are soul-warming and an all-in-one meal. They are filling, hearty, chock full of delicious ingredients, and most of the time very low in fat. Soups can be made on a Sunday and last through a Thursday. I love soup.
Most of the time my soups end up velvety and thick because of my immersion-blender obsession. However, this time I decided to finally try and concede to the request for a brothy minestrone soup.
I began with a package of 16-bean soup (Goya, I think), boiled the beans in water for 5 min and allowed them to sit for 1 hour. I rinsed the beans, added around 7-8 C water, and brought that to a boil with about 3 t Italian seasoning, 1 t garlic powder, 1 t finely ground black pepper, 1/4 t cayenne pepper, 3 bay leaves, 1 can of diced tomatoes, and 1 sliced medium-large yellow onion.
Once the beans were tender, I added about 5 T of my favorite better-than-bouillon chicken stock (you could use veggie if you want it to be completely vegetarian/vegan!) and some salt to taste. I also added 1 stalk celery sliced into crescents, and 1 diced green bell pepper. I boiled a pound of Barilla Piccolini Mini Wheels in a separate pot and added the whole pound of pasta to the soup.
I was feeling ambitious, and then decided to try my hand at breadmaking, seeing as I keep this sourdough starter alive in my fridge by feeding it flour every week...until, of course, I forget about it and it explodes all over the place.
Anyway, what a better way to serve soup, than in its very own breadbowl?
I'm not quite sure if I followed a recipe, but here goes:
1 - 1 1/2 C sourdough starter (these recipes are all over the internet)
1 package dry yeast (follow packet directions for activating)
1/4 t salt
I basically let the sourdough starter and yeast come to room temp and activate, respectively. I put this in a stand mixer, added some warm water (about 1/2 C) and then added flour 1/2 C at a time until the dough pulled away from the bowl and seemed like a good consistency. Have I mentioned how much I hate baking because you have to measure...?
I put the dough in a giant olive oil coated bread rising bowl, covered it with a clean, moist kitchen towel, and stuck it in the oven (pre-warmed of course) and let it sit overnight. In the morning, I punched down the dough, kneaded it briefly on a floured surface and divided it into two boule shapes. I don't have a fancy pizza stone, though you can go to Home Depot, buy the bases to any clay flower pot and use that as a pizza stone (they cost about $1-2!!!). I used my regular old Silpat-lined baking sheet, popped the boules in the oven for about 20 min at 400F, brushed the tops with olive oil at the end and quickly broiled them for a top-brown:
The plan is to cut the tops, pull some insides out, and use them as a delicious vessel for the minestrone soup: