10 November 2013

Soup and Bread --- Simple Sustenance

Today was a day for baking bread. There were off and on snow squalls ... didn't amount to anything other than making us feel like we brushed up against the edge of winter. The woodstove in the kitchen has kept the place cozy enough to coax the bread dough up up up to the top of the loaf pans. And while the bread baked, I puttered at a small painting project.

I also wanted to try out a recipe for a creamy coconut carrot soup that I'm thinking would make a nice start to our Thanksgiving feast.  This month's Bon Appetit magazine has what looks to be a winning take on carrot soup so I've made it up and am simmering it, as we speak.

Later on we'll light candles and pour some wine, as is our daily routine. Let the dark clouds bluster around the skies above! We've soup and bread, a bit of salad and soft music to dull the blustery wind at the corners of the grey cottage!

But about this bread ... it reminds me of a German vollkornbrot in that it is dense, moist, and has a thick crunchy crust. It's full of seeds and the fiber content is WAY up there. Perfect toast and sandwich bread as it slices wonderfully. There are a few tussy mussy steps to prepping the dough, but it's worth it ! One little thing about this recipe ... I used salted pumpkin and sunflower seeds, so I decreased the salt measure dramatically from Beth Hensperger's recipe. If you were to make this bread be aware that you might increase the salt to one teaspoon or more (depending on your taste). Beth's recipe recommends one tablespoon of salt! Way too much for me, but taste is taste, so you be the judge. The bread needs some salt as I think it does something to enhance the tenderness of the bread crumb, but I also think you can play with the amount of saltiness. Also ... the 'four seeds' is a flexible thing ... Beth had millet in her recipe, but I didn't have any so I subbed in flax seed, which I love. You can put in any four seed combo that you like, but DO put in the seeds!

Four Seed Buttermilk Bread
a slightly adapted Beth Hensperger recipe


1 tbsp. active dry yeast
1 pinch brown sugar
¾ c. warm (109° F) water
½ c. coarse grind bulgur wheat soaked in ½ c. warm water
1 c. roasted sunflower seeds
1 c. roasted pumpkin seeds
¼ c. roasted sesame seeds
¼ c. flax seed
1 ½ c. warm buttermilk (115° F)
¼ c. canola oil
½ c. honey
½ c. wheat germ
½ tsp. salt
4 ½ to 5 c. bread flour

Making the Bread:

  1. Combine the warm water, yeast, and pinch of brown sugar in a bowl and whisk to dissolve the yeast. Set aside for ten minutes.
  2. Combine the bulgur wheat with the warm water in another small bowl and let it soak for ten minutes.
  3. While the yeast proofs and the wheat puffs up, warm the buttermilk in a small saucepan and roast the seeds in a large dry fry pan over medium heat.
  4. Combine the warm milk, with the seeds in a deep bread bowl. Add the canola oil, honey, wheat germ, bulgur wheat, the proofed yeast and 2 cups of the bread flour.
  5. Stir vigorously for about 2 minutes. Really slap things around in the bread bowl!
  6. Begin adding the bread flour – ½ cup at a time, and stirring with a heavy wooden spoon to combine.
  7. When the dough forms a shaggy ball and comes away from the sides of the bowl, tip the dough onto a floured surface. Scrape out all the scraps in the bowl and begin kneading the rest of the flour into the dough.
  8. Knead about a tablespoon of flour in at a time, keeping the dough from sticking to the kneading surface and your hands.
  9. Knead a total of about 5 minutes or until the dough is springy and smooth and only slightly sticky.
  10. Grease a clean bowl with canola oil (just a bit!) and turn the dough ball to coat.
  11. Cover and let rise until doubles – about 1 hour and 45 minutes.
  12. Gently press the dough ball down, divide in half, form loaves to place in two greased loaf pans ( 9 x 5 x 3 inches).
  13. Cover and let rise until the dough reaches the top of the pans.
  14. While the dough rises, place a rack in the bottom third of the oven and preheat the oven to 450° F. If you have bread tiles place them on the rack and get them hot.
  15. When the dough has risen, use a sharp serrated knife to draw a shallow cut down the center of each loaf.
  16. Place the loaves in the oven right on the baking tiles, spritz a few spritzes of water into the oven to get some steam and close the oven door quickly. IMMEDIATELY lower the oven temperature to 375° F.
  17. Bake the bread for 40 minutes or until the crust is deep brown and the loaves sound hollow when rapped with your knuckle.
  18. Remove from the pans to a cooling rack and cool completely before you cut into the loaves.

And the soup? This is a sweet and spicy hot carrot soup made with coconut milk and chicken stock. Carrots and onions get a soft buttery start in the soup pot and when they are soft and shiny, the coconut milk and chicken broth get added along with two tablespoons of really hot and spicy Thai chili garlic sauce. The soup is simmered and then given a whiz with the hand blender. SB begged me not to completely puree the soup to silky smoothness because he likes little bits of cooked carrot, but I think if I were preparing this soup as a soup course for a special meal, I'd puree it completely. It's really a simple and fast soup to prep ... perfect for a special meal, as you can make it the day before and warm it up ... it repeats beautifully. It's very spicy, so be aware when you're adding the Thai chili sauce ... a little at a time! And taste!

The recipe is attributed to The Clayburn Village Country Store and Tea Shop in Abbotsford, British Columbia and it appeared in this month's Bon Appetit magazine.

Carrot-Coconut Soup

Makes 4 hearty servings or 6 servings as a soup course


1 lb. carrots, peeled and chopped small
1 medium onion, chopped
¼ c. salted butter
Kosher salt and black pepper
2 c. low-sodium chicken broth
1- 13.5 oz. can unsweetened coconut milk (full fat)
2 tbsp. Thai chili garlic sauce (or less)
added water (optional) for getting preferred consistency
Fresh cilantro, chopped for garnish

Making the Soup:

  1. Melt the butter in the bottom of a heavy soup pot.
  2. Add the carrots and onions and cook, stirring often until they are softened and shiny. Salt and pepper them.
  3. Add the coconut milk and chicken broth and stir together really well. Bring the broth to a slow bubble, lower the heat and partially cover the pot.
  4. Simmer the pot for about 40 minutes, stirring frequently to move things around the bottom of the pot.
  5. Add the Thai chili sauce a little at a time to get to your preferred spiciness level.
  6. Continue to simmer the soup and let the chili sauce mature a bit in the soup.
  7. Use a hand blender to whiz the soup to its final consistency. Add some water if the soup is too thick for your taste. Bring the heat back up under the soup for just a bit.
  8. Spoon into soup bowls and sprinkle on some fresh cilantro.
  9. Serve piping hot with a slice of bread.


  1. oooh, they both look so warming and welcoming... love the carrot / coconut combo, very intrigued!

  2. It is definitely soup and freshly baked bread season.

  3. OK, I really need to try both of these recipes out as soon as I can! The bread sounds fabulous, although I agree that one tablespoon of salt would be just too much even for a salt fiend like me.

    1. Yaeh! What's up with that amount of salt? This is not the only recipe I've come across with a huge amount of salt in the dough ... I always down the amount dramatically, but wonder if I'm compromising the final bread's texture. If anyone reads this comment and has some input, please DO pipe up!


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