Sunday, March 20, 2011

Homemade Soup and Bread

Looks like I wont have to cook for a few days :)
     Soup and bread are the perfect combination, and it helps that soup can be pretty easy to make. This weekend I made Butternut Squash Soup and No-Knead Bread. The soup recipe comes straight from the Crock Pot website. I don't know about you, but I love the crock pot for weekends when I have a million and one things to do; insert ingredients and walk away. This soup is super easy to put together, makes a big batch, and tastes great. The hardest part is peeling the squash (there must be some trick to it  that doesn't involve me cutting myself?). You can find the recipe for squash soup here.
      I was able to find all organic ingredients except for the squash, which came from Honduras. Really? No local butternut squash in New England? Hence the goal to grow my own vegetables. Transporting squash from the backyard to my kitchen is a lot more sustainable than from somewhere in Honduras to my kitchen.
A little flat and floury, but still yummy.
     Now for the bread. I usually make bread in the bread maker, operating on the same principle as the crock pot: insert ingredients and walk away. There is something to be said for handmade bread, however, so I gave it a whirl. I found a recipe from the NY Times Online for No-Knead Bread, by Jim Lahey of Sullivan Street Bakery. As the name implies, there is no need to knead this bread, which saves time and effort. The bread first needs to rise for 12-18 hours so plan ahead. Read the directions more carefully than I did so you don't miss the "let stand for 15 min. before rolling into a ball" step. If you do, you'll end up dumping a pound of flour on it because it's so sticky. You will also end up with a bit too much flour dusted on top of the bread after it's baked, which you will have to brush of knock off. Finally, use fresh yeast. I didn't and the bread came out much flatter than it was supposed to. All of that aside, the bread is delicious and the perfect accompaniment to soup. It does requires some sort of enamel or cast iron pot for baking. You can find the recipe for No-Knead Bread here.
     While I definitely want to improve on my cooking skills to be able to make more complex recipes, easy recipes, crock pots, bread makers, etc. are great for amateur cooks like myself, as well as for busy people. Cooking more at home is an easy way to save money and make healthy food that's not overly processed. I'm pretty sure my soup, Honduras squash aside, is healthier than some sodium and preservative laden soup from a can.

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