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Day 280: Tuscan Twice-Cooked Bread Soup (but really stew)

Tonight, after 4pm, after an already jammed day, I made two batches of pulled pork, stuffed turkey cutlets, Southwestern soup, cranberry poached pears, granola bars, cookies, upside-down pear gingerbread, butternut squash soup with apples, and roasted pepper and goat cheese gratin.

None of this, mind you, was for dinner. It was all destined for CBC, foodstyling gigs and a cooking class, all of which happens tomorrow. If I may be allowed to complain for just a minute, I’m totally exhausted and my back hurts. And I have to be up again in 5 hours.

If I hadn’t made a batch of this Tuscan soup yesterday, it would have been toast and peanut butter all around. Fortunately, I hacked all the requisite vegetables into the pot as I unpacked produce from the market, with the directive of leaving it overnight to bake again today. That’s right, baked soup. And it really wasn’t so much a soup as a stew. It could, in fact, be more accurately labelled bean & vegetable stew – the chunk of bread, although interesting, does not define it, and in fact makes it sound far less healthy than it actually is. It has beans, and cabbage, and greens, and carrots, celery and potatoes, besides the bread. I added twice as many tomatoes as the original recipe called for (a cup just wasn’t enough to get it going, so I added a large can of plum tomatoes with their juice, and chopped them up with my stirring spoon) and poured in about half a tetra pack of chicken stock. And because I only had a cup of dried white beans left, and no canned, I soaked and added the cup and didn’t puree any at all. It was perfect, actually. Definitely a stew, and a not very soupy one at that.

I came across it while perusing Saveur’s French onion soup, and was intrigued not only by the photo but by the double-cookedness of it. Yesterday I had very low hopes for it (Mike ate some while I was at my sister’s house and was far from impressed), but tonight I decided it has potential. It needs garlic. And herbs. Definitely garlic. Maybe some chiles. Or sausage. But tonight after it was baked it was just fine sprinkled with freshly grated Parmesan – I scooped mine over the last of W’s rice he couldn’t get up with his fork.

Tuscan Twice-Cooked Bread Soup

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October 6, 2008


1 cup dried little white beans

canola or olive oil

2 onions, peeled and chopped

2 carrots, peeled and thickly sliced

2 celery ribs, thickly sliced

2 potatoes, peeled (or not) and thickly sliced

1 large bunch swiss chard or kale, ribs removed and leaves torn or coarsely chopped

1?2 small savoy cabbage, cored and coarsely chopped

1 796 mL can plum or diced tomatoes, undrained

2 cups chicken or vegetable stock

3 thick slices day-old country-style white bread

Salt and freshly ground black pepper


1Cover the beans with twice as much water in a pot; soak overnight or bring to a simmer, then turn off the heat and let them soak for about 2 hours. Bring to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes, or until al dente.

2In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat a good drizzle of oil over medium heat and saute the onions for about 10 minutes, until soft. Add carrots, celery, potatoes, chard and cabbage. Add tomatoes and stock, cover, and cook for about an hour, until everything is soft.

3Tear the bread into chunks and add it to the pot; stir and return to a simmer. Cook for about 10 minutes, then season with salt and pepper. You can serve some of it at this point if you like, otherwise let it cool completely and refrigerate.

4The next day, preheat oven to 375º. Heat the leftover soup in the casserole (I did it in my Le Cruset-style pot) in the oven, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until heated through, about 1 hour. For the last 30 minutes, do not stir; let soup brown lightly.

5 Drizzle with olive oil and serve.



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10 comments on “Day 280: Tuscan Twice-Cooked Bread Soup (but really stew)

  1. Dana mccauley
    October 7, 2008 at 4:11 am

    You are working crazy hard these days! I hope you have some down time planned. Interesting soup none-the-less.

  2. maplesugar
    October 7, 2008 at 6:42 am

    Wow! That’s just too much time in the kitchen. My back aches just thinking about that much work. I second Dana, I hope you have some serious rest & relaxation planned(and I don’t mean just between gigs).

  3. maris
    October 7, 2008 at 8:44 am

    This looks like a great, hearty meal for a chilly day!

  4. Brenda Graham
    October 7, 2008 at 8:30 am

    Hi Julie,
    I really enjoy your site. It is the first thing I check when I go on the computer every day. Last night, for supper, we had Brown Sugar Pork Chops, potatoes, and peas. Then, I made banana muffins and chocolate drop cookies for lunches this week.
    Thanks for the interesting site,

  5. Cathie Whitehead
    October 7, 2008 at 2:29 pm

    Hi Julie,

    I’ve been a loyal reader for over a year now (I read your Julie was here blog first). I have tried many of your recipes (and have had great success). My fav so far has been from “one smart cookie” – your Chocolava cookies. I took some to the care facility where my Dad is and now I’m known as the chocolate cookie lady.

    Thank you for all you do, keep posting and I promise to keep reading every morning.

    Best Regards,


  6. Carol SB
    October 7, 2008 at 7:18 pm

    MMmm, upside down pear gingerbread. My daughter made some the other day, cobbled together from a couple of other recipes… it was sooooo good! Pears and ginger are a marriage made in heaven. … I also hope you get to enjoy some well deserved time off, Julie. We need you; don’t burn out!

  7. Carol SB
    October 7, 2008 at 7:20 pm

    **tries to send energy to Julie but the keyboard is too insulative**maybe a Bumpy’s latte would do**

  8. Melanie
    October 7, 2008 at 8:48 pm

    You are so worthy of issuing a complaint or two after a night like that!!! My back and legs hurt just reading about it!
    Hope you have some time to rest and that the Eyeopener crew at least made sure you had leftovers for dinner tonight!!!

  9. Judy Neary
    October 10, 2008 at 3:08 pm

    I LOVE Ribolita! We spent 10 days in Italy this past Spring – a week in Tuscany. I had this at almost every restaurant!

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