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. Thanks for the encouragement! If I’d have bought all the recommended equipment before starting out, it would have been at risk of being the world’s first £200 loaf, so I managed with the bare essentials. In retrospect, a baking thermometer would have been handy. It looked ready, and sounded hollow, but I think I should perhaps have baked it for five mins or so longer as the crumb was a bit gluey.

      1. I know what you mean. I eventually bought a couple of banneton, but don’t use them all that often as I prefer normal loaf tins. We usually end up slicing and freezing the excess and bread from tins fits the toaster best. I have a hankering for a lame, but am making do at the moment with a sharp vegetable knife. I hadn’t even thought about a baking thermometer!

        1. I used a bread knife instead of a lame and a mixing bowl instead of a banneton. I’m not even sure what a Dutch oven is!

  1. My hubby grew up helping to make homemade bread. He did it for a few years after we got married. I was amazed at how just HOW physical it could be. Good for you! Soul satisfying!

    1. I imagine a bread maker makes it much easier, but I like the idea of learning to handle the dough myself. It was a sticky recipe, so a bit like working with a clingy octopus at times. But soul satisfying, as you say!

  2. I went through a long phase of making and enjoying sourdough bread, but got out of the habit. This may be the push I need to start again.

  3. The other day, completely wilted by heat and humidity, I thought wistfully of October, Indiana’s perfect month. And here comes your October photo. Homemade bread and soup are — to me — the epitome of high living, especially in autumn. In my young and foolish years, I baked all my own bread. (Then the second baby came along.) But I could never master sourdough. So I congratulate you while at the same time chortling over your sweetheart’s comment. I must agree that bubbling starter without bread is just wrong.

    1. You do seem to move from icy cold to hot and humid quite quickly. We’re having decent weather more of the time than the weather readers would have us believe (they really don’t like to encourage us to go out without our coats unless it’s a certified heatwave) but it’s not so hot it becomes a problem. The weatherman today said the weather would be OK provided we set our expectations low. That seemed peculiarly British.

  4. enjoyed reading this – like your self deprecating style – smile. have also been following your plant blogs, you seem to know a lot about them, and was wondering whether I could ask you to identify some of the plants I have in my new garden? I’ve not been blogging myself for ages, but I put one up today!

    1. Happy new garden! If you send me a link I’ll see if I know any of them. I usually have more chance with flowers than with trees or shrubs or leaves!

      1. I’ve only just seen your reply! thanks! had problems with my email settings – will get back to you – only have some pics on the computer – do you have a contact you button so I can send you a message and email address?

          1. will get back to you soon – thanks – see my next blog, which I’m writing now to find out why I haven’t been able to do much lately – smile

  5. I can eat soup and bread at any time of the year, month or day. I’m lucky enough to have a couple of brilliant bakeries nearby so I haven’t had to delve into the intricacies of bread making yet. Your photo,
    However, had me drooling and re-considering tonight’s supper menu!


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