It was 6 pm on a weeknight. I am (almost) ashamed to admit that I had already changed into my comfy pajamas. In contemplating dinner, I realized that all I really wanted in the entire world was some home baked bread and a hot bowl of soup. Running to a bakery was out of the question, and I was too hungry to wait. What to do?
Having recently been bitten by the bread baking bug, I figured now was the perfect time to try a savory quick bread. After reading a bunch of recipes online - and keeping ingredient proportions in mind - I came up with a recipe that was an amalgamation of everything I liked the sound of best. That said, I was a bit concerned that I would end up with a hard brick rather than a nice, soft loaf, especially after getting a good look at my batter, which looked disconcertingly like lumpy oatmeal. I needn't have worried - this bread was moist and hearty, and had a faint, comforting yeast-y smell thanks to the beer.
As for the soup, I nearly always have on hand onions, garlic, canned whole tomatoes, veggie broth, and cannellini beans. Add to that some fresh thyme and Swiss chard, and you've got the makings for a rustic, satisfying, Tuscan-style soup that comes together in no time.
Beer Batter Quick Bread
1 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
4 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup brown sugar (this really offsets the potential "sour" beer taste, but doesn't make the bread sweet.)
1/3 cup grated parmesan or pecorino romano
1 tbsp dried rosemary
2 tbsp melted unsalted butter
12 oz. beer, at room temperature (I used Yuengling)
Combine the dry ingredients, add the beer and gently mix to combine thoroughly. Pour the batter into a greased 9 by 5 loaf pan and pour the melted butter on top. I let my loaf sit for about 15 minutes before putting it into a 350 degree oven for 50 minutes. It's done when a toothpick comes out clean.
White Bean & Tomato Soup
2 cups chopped tender greens such as Swiss chard or spinach
1-2 cloves garlic
1/2 small onion, chopped
1 can cannellini beans
5 (or so) canned Italian plum tomatoes, chopped
2 cups (or just enough to cover everything) vegetable broth
A few sprigs of fresh thyme
2-3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste
In a medium saucepan, slowly cook the onion until translucent. Add the garlic and saute for a couple more minutes. Add the greens and cook until very tender. Next add the tomatoes, beans, broth, thyme, salt and pepper and simmer until all the flavors come together. The beauty of this soup is that you can make it while the bread cooks. It's very low stress, but high yield in the flavor department!
Wrap any unused bread tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate - warmed up with a little butter, it makes for some great leftovers the next day.