Is there anything more reviving than a steaming bowl of soup and a hunk of freshly baked bread to dip into it?
February’s The Simple Things includes three soup recipes and accompanying loaves - turn to page 37 to see them all. Or try Ribollita, an Italian classic packed with beans, veg and bread. Plus, an airy, herby focaccia to go with it.
This Italian soup translates as ‘reboiled’, and traditionally it is made one day for eating the next. It is thickened with bread, but don’t let that stop you from pairing it with an airy, herby focaccia.
2 tbsp olive oil, plus extra
2 onions, chopped
2 carrots, roughly chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely sliced
400g tin chopped tomatoes
250g cooked cannellini beans
250ml water or stock
1 tsp dried oregano
2 slices white bread, ideally stale
A few handfuls of cavolo nero, roughly chopped
Small handful of chopped parsley
1 Heat the olive oil in a pan and gently fry the onions, carrots and garlic until softened and translucent.
2 Add the tomatoes, beans, water or stock, and oregano and bring to the boil, then simmer for 30 mins.
3 Tear up the bread and add it to the pot, along with the cavolo nero, and simmer for another 20 mins.
4 Season and divide into bowls. Drizzle each serving with olive oil and sprinkle with parsley. Or follow tradition and leave overnight to let the flavours marry together, then reheat and serve the following day.
A lovely, airy bread for dipping in oil or soup. This recipe is based on Paul Hollywood’s and works brilliantly.
Makes 2 loaves
500g strong white bread flour 10g salt
10g instant yeast
140ml extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for kneading and drizzling
360ml cold water
2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp sea salt flakes
1 Lightly oil a square or rectangular plastic storage box. Measure the flour, salt and yeast into a bowl. Make a well in the centre and pour in 40ml of the oil and 240ml water, then stir in with your fingers, adding more water as you need it until all of the flour is incorporated. You may not need to use all the water but you should create a fairly wet dough.
2 Coat your work surface with some of the remaining olive oil, tip the dough onto it, and knead for around 10 mins, adding more olive oil if the dough starts to stick. Drop the dough into the plastic container and cover with a clean tea towel. Leave to double in size: about an hour.
3 Cover two baking sheets in parchment and drizzle on olive oil, then tip the dough out of the container and as gently as possible cut it into two pieces and stretch them into rectangles on the baking sheets, taking care not to knock the air out of them. Cover with clean tea towels and leave to rise for another hour.
4 Preheat oven to 220C/Fan 200C/ 425F. Use fingers to make dimples all over the focaccia, then drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle on herbs and salt. Bake for around 15 mins, or until golden on top and hollow sounding when the bottom is tapped. Drizzle on more oil and leave to cool on a wire rack.