After a solid week of being knocked on my butt by a sinus and ear infection, I’m antsy like a whole ant farm at a Fourth of July picnic. Must mean I am getting better-hurray! Needless to say, my kitchen time this last week has consisted of such elaborate recipes as peanut butter toast and microwave zapped soup. But before I got sick, I made a soup that soothes as well as the old homemade chicken version and an accompanying bread that, because it’s raised with baking soda rather than yeast, is almost quick and easy enough to make when you are sick.
While sick, I missed cheering on Pete in the Marine O’Brien Old Wooden Ski Race. He did great and had a blast—I’m so bummed I wasn’t there to share the excitement with him!
The soup recipe was adapted from one of my very favorite food blogs, 101 Cookbooks. I have learned so much from Heidi Swanson’s site, and her recipes, writing, and photography are unmatched in the food blogging world. She also puts out wonderful cookbooks! The bread recipe is directly from 101 Cookbooks, one I stumbled upon when looking for a recipe to use up the buttermilk l had in the fridge after making the addictive Buttermilk Vinaigrette from a previous post.
The soup calls for chickpeas (also called garbanzo beans). I had some in the fridge from a batch of dried beans cooked up earlier, but if you don’t want to take the time to soak and cook the beans, using canned would work great too.
It also includes bulgur, which is a whole wheat grain that has been cracked and partially pre-cooked. As a whole grain, it is a naturally high-fiber, low-fat, low-calorie vegetarian and vegan food ingredient. It adds a meaty texture to this soup and adds to the comfort/filling quality. You can find it packaged in the natural foods section of well stocked grocery stores and in bulk at the co-op or natural foods store. It cooks quickly and it’s cheap!
When I don’t have homemade veggie stock on hand (which is almost always), two brands of veggie bouillon I love are Rapunzel and Not-Chick’n/Not-Beef. They are delicious and don’t contain any trans fats or partially hydrogenated anything.
The bread calls for mixed seeds – sesame, caraway, poppy, etc. sprinkled on top of the bread before baking.
This really makes the bread special, so don’t skip this step, even if all you have is sesame seeds. I used both black and white sesame seeds, along with poppy and caraway seeds and it was perfect! Enjoy!
Buttermilk Oat Soda Bread Recipe
If you’re like me, you’re more likely to have rolled oats on hand than oat flour. So this recipe instructs you to make your own oat flour below. But you can skip that step if you actually have oat flour on hand. As far as storage for this bread goes, loosely wrapped in parchment paper, it’s great for a couple days.
Butter or non-hydrogenated margarine (such as Earth Balance), to grease pan
2 cups rolled oats
2 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting and kneading (I used white whole wheat; you could also use half whole wheat bread flour)
1 3/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/4 teaspoons fine-grain sea salt
1 3/4 cups buttermilk, plus more if needed, and 2T. for brushing
mixed seeds – sesame, caraway, poppy, etc.
Preheat the oven to 400°F with a rack in the middle of the oven. Butter and line a 9x5x3 inch loaf pan (or one with ~8 cup capacity) with parchment paper and set aside. Alternately, you can bake this bread without a pan, shaped into a round, on a lightly floured baking sheet.
To make the oat flour, use a food processor to pulse the rolled oats a few times. Then process into a fine powder – another minute or two. If you are buying oat flour, not making your own, measure out a scant 2 cups.
Whisk the flours, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. Make a well in the flour and pour in the buttermilk. Stir just until everything comes together into a dough. Turn out onto a lightly floured countertop and knead for 30 seconds or so, just long enough for the dough to come together into a cohesive, slightly flattened ball without many cracks or fissures. If your dough is on the dry side, add more buttermilk a small splash at a time, and if it’s too sticky (which mine was), add more flour a bit at a time and knead until incorporated. Ease the dough evenly into the prepared parchment lined bread pan.
Brush all over the top and sides with buttermilk and sprinkle generously with mixed seeds, 2 tablespoons or so. Slice a few deep slashes across the top of the dough (I forgot to do this and it was fine).
Bake for about 30 minutes, then quickly (without letting all the hot air out of the oven), move the rack and the bread up a level, so the top of the bread gets nice and toasted. Bake for another 20 minutes, or until a hard crust forms and the bread is baked through. It will feel very solid and sound hollow when you knock on it. Carefully lift it out of the pan by the sides of the parchment, and allow to cool on a wire rack. Enjoy with a good slathering of salted butter or Earth Balance.
Chickpea Carrot Comfort Soup
1 large yellow or sweet onion, chopped
1 Tbls. of olive oil
½ tsp. salt
3/4 cup uncooked bulgur
2 cups cooked chickpeas (if using canned, rinse and drain first)
4 1/2 cups vegetable stock
1/2 cup orange juice (fresh squeezed is ideal, but not necessary)
2 cups paper-thin carrot slices (use a mandolin if you have one) or shred on box grater
2 cups fresh chopped spinach
olive oil for finishing drizzle
fresh orange zest
toasted slivered almonds
In a stock pot over medium-high heat sauté the onion in the olive oil along with the salt – for a minute or until the onion begins to soften a bit. Stir in the bulgur. Stir in the chickpeas and the stock. Bring the ingredients to a simmer. Cook for another few minutes, it should start to thicken. Taste to see if the bulgur is cooked through, if so add the orange juice (if using fresh-squeezed, make sure to zest the oranges first). If not, simmer for a couple more minutes before adding the juice. Stir in the carrots and spinach as well – simmer another few minutes. If the soup is on the thick side, thin with a bit more water or stock. Taste, and add salt if necessary. Serve garnished with a drizzle of olive oil (about a teaspoon per bowl) and a little sprinkling of orange zest and toasted slivered almonds.
Serves 4 – 6.