Homemade soup and sourdough bread

Veggie soup with sourdough

For months, I’ve been watching from the sidelines as several blogging buddies have rapturously baked bread. I love eating bread, especially sourdough. Even plain white sliced can feel like a luxury, so long as it’s fresh, but if you’ll add seeds, or olives and rosemary, or cranberries and walnuts, most likely you’ve got me hooked. The trouble is, the bread I love seems to be scattered too widely around. When I caught myself driving an almost twenty five mile long round trip to pick up one of my favourite loaves, I decided something had to change. Perhaps I could bake something I would love to eat. 

I’m not a confident or adventurous cook, but I persuaded myself that getting a sourdough starter going was more like gardening than cooking, and went for it. After a week or so of mixing a little rye flour with water, a healthy-looking, bubbling mix had become my latest pride and joy. Apparently my new pet would make better tasting bread the longer I kept it going. I took that as dispensation to delay the moment of baking truth and left it to mature for longer than I care to admit.

The ability to nurture a living starter hadn’t made the idea of baking sourdough any less daunting. I learned to make tasty seed crackers (rather too tasty for the good of my waistline) with the large quantities of excess starter I was producing, but baking bread still seemed something that might have to wait until tomorrow… or the day after.

My sweetheart eventually started to hint that he found the idea of someone tending a sourdough starter and not baking any bread just wrong. That was the extra push I needed. I started to bake and after a couple of days, ended up with this:

Home made sourdough bread

It would have made sense to start with an easier recipe than this one. I can’t claim everything went exactly to plan, or that the finished loaf was one of the tastiest I’ve ever had. But it was bread: handmade from start to finish, additive-free, and raised by a thriving community of yeasts coaxed from either the atmosphere or the rye flour.

The process gave me a whole heap of extra appreciation for artisan bakers and a better understanding of the prices some of them charge. Bread making may be presented as relaxing and rapturous – and I’m sure it can be, when you know what you’re doing – but I’d underestimated the physicality of the work and the steely determination required to wrest sourdough bread from flour and water.

But was it satisfying to be able to eat both soup and sourdough bread I’d made myself for the very first time? You bet!

Shared for the weekly photo challenge: satisfaction.

57 Replies to “Homemade soup and sourdough bread”

  1. And both look gorgeous! I bake my own bread, usually a mix of white and brown flour with added seeds. Fig and walnuts are a nice combination too especially when served with cheese. But I have never tried sourdough, even though I love eating it. Maybe I need to give it a go!

    1. They sound both delicious. My main aim is to be able to make the taste combinations I like best. When I’m in Mississippi, I love Wholefood’s cranberry and walnut bread, but they heap crystallised sugar on it and I have to spend ages shaking and scraping as much of it off as I can. My dream is to make one without all the sugar!

      I’m not sure if it is a sourdough though, or whether you can make a sourdough version of any kind of bread. I have a lot to learn as you see!

  2. Looks gorgeous! And as with anything, the more you do it, the easier it gets. I used to make all our bread—not sourdough—but now my writing keeps me too busy. I’m a little sorry about this, but as I age I have learned that I can’t do it all. Still, your bread is tempting me…

    1. Cooking does seem to go in eras and you’re right, we can’t do it all. At least you know how to do it if the fancy takes you!

      My mother used to make wonderful ice cream with crumbled up flake in when my sister and I were children. I was sorry she stopped that. Later on, she started making two fruit cakes each week using mincemeat (the kind we make mince pies with, not the meat kind!). They were so moreish, we had to plead with her to stop baking so many of them.

  3. Tasted sourdough on honeymoon in San Francisco, loved it. Tried to make it at home, but had no joy. So well done for at least getting a loaf out of it!

    1. San Francisco is renowned for its sourdough, isn’t it, so that was a great place to start (though perhaps a bit daunting to measure yourself against for the first bake!). My bread took almost a whole day longer than it was supposed to but I was determined to get something out of it. The crust was fine, but the crumb not as tasty as I would have liked. I found getting the starter going a lot of fun, but I really am one for small pleasures!

  4. We never add corn to our soups or stews. We love it, but have a lot of family/friends that cannot eat it (bummer getting old – hahahaha). We also have to be careful with tomatoes. We are now growing more of the yellows (heirloom and less acidic) for our acid-sensitive buds. Your soup looks fantastic!! Yummy!!

    1. I love the look of heirloom tomatoes, especially the striped ones, but have never had success growing any kind of tomato. I had been growing (or rather keeping alive as they came from the local supermarket) two kinds of baby spinach on my kitchen windowsill, and threw a handful in the soup, but they would have had more impact in a salad. At least there was a small home-grown part!

  5. Way to go Susan! I can relate with driving for miles and miles just to get something I would like to eat. It seems good things never congregate in one place. They tend to scatter themselves around the globe as far as possible from each other. I’m a good cook but I hate cooking especially the ones that involved measuring and baking or making dessert is the last thing in my mind. Watching cooking programs like Masterchef and The Great British Bake Off gives me enormous pleasure though but doing it myself… no. Kudos and keep it up.

    1. I wonder if the Great British Bake Off is going to have the same appeal next season? They’ve got a hard act to follow. All the bunting in the world won’t make up for the blend of characters who shaped out the idea for us on screen.

      At my inner core, despite appearances, I’m extremely patient. I thought this might work to my advantage for making sourdough. Time will tell!

  6. What an accomplishment! Congratulations!

    I used to bake all the bread we ate. The same sourdough starter was the basis for all kinds of things. I don’t remember why I stopped, but it probably had to do with going to work full time.

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