Monday, December 27, 2010

Bisque in Bread Bowls Beats the Cold

With the congestion, my brain isn't working at full capacity, but my stomach, fortunately, still is, so I'll share with you the meal we had tonight. It's been cold cold cold, so soup in a bread bowl sounded more or less perfect tonight. For us, it was Portobello Mushroom Bisque in whole-wheat bread bowls.

For the Bread Bowls:

Since they aren't the feature item, I just need an adequate bread recipe, so I go for ease of preparation and use a variation of Mark Bittman's pizza dough recipe in How to Cook Everything. It's really sped up by being done with a food processor.

1 tsp instant dry yeast
2 cups bread flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 tsp coarse kosher or sea salt
1 - 1 1/4 cup water
2 T olive oil

In the food processor, combine the dry ingredients. Add the oil to the water and gradually add it to the dry ingredients through the feeding tube. Process for about 30 seconds, until a ball forms. Add only as much water as necessary to form a tacky ball. Knead for just a short while. Put some olive oil in a bowl, turn the dough ball to coat with oil and cover with a damp cloth or plastic wrap and leave in a warm place to rise for 1-2 hours. Retarding the rise by putting the dough in the fridge can be good if you have the time to spare. When the dough has risen, divide into two or three balls (three makes a very good size for each) and allow to rise a while longer. Pre-heat an oven with a baking stone to 500. When the oven is heated, put the balls onto the baking stone and splash some water on the sides of the oven to create steam. Wait 30 seconds and make steam again, then another 30 seconds and do it one more time. Lower the heat to 350. Bake for 10 minutes, rotate the balls and bake for 5-10 minutes more.

Let cool a few minutes, then cut holes in the tops and scoop out some of the interior bread, being careful not to puncture the crust. Reserve bread for dipping into soup.

Meanwhile, prepare the soup!

Portobello Mushroom Bisque

4 T butter
2-3 leeks, white and green parts, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
1 large yellow onion, chopped
3-4 large Portobello mushrooms (basically, two packs of whatever sized bellas
3 T flour
1 ½ T fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
1 T red wine vinegar
6 cups chicken stock
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
½ tsp pepper
1 cup heavy whipping cream
2 T butter
¼ cup minced parsley (optional)

In a large saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Swirl to coat the bottom of the pan, and sauté the leeks and onion stirring constantly, until slightly softened and well coated with butter, about 2 minutes. Lower the heat, cover the pan, and cook for 30 min. stirring occasionally. Add the mushrooms and vinegar, stir to combine, cover and cook for 10 min. longer. Raise the heat to med. Stir in the flour, and cook 3 min. Add the thyme, bay leaf, stock, salt, sugar, and pepper. Simmer, partially covered for 10 min.

Cool the soup slightly, discard bay leaf, then puree the soup in batches in a blender. Return the pureed soup to the pan and add the cream and 2 T of butter. Cook on low until heated through, but don’t boil. Taste and adjust seasonings. Ladle soup and garnish with parsley.
Serves 8.

I guess you'd have to make three batches of the bread to serve 8. Or, as we did, if you have fewer to serve, you can freeze some for later.


  1. Sounds good even though we aren't having the cold weather you are. Comfort food for winter. I always make New Year's Resolutions to try new recipes. We'll see if I get as far as this one when I don't own a food processor or a baking stone and, honestly, I'm no fan of mushrooms. But I'm glad you post recipes!

  2. I'm not generally a fan of cream-based soups (except clam chowder) but this sounds delicious, and, a bisque isn't really the same as a heavy cream soup. Even if there is cream in the recipe.

  3. Janice--you can pretty well substitute any bread recipe, because the food processor is really just a time-saver. Without a baking stone, I would just bake them on a baking sheet. Not being a fan of mushrooms... I can't really help with that. Maybe you just haven't met the right mushroom...? ;) If it's a texture thing, once you've put it through a blender (or used a hand blender--a handy kitchen tool for many soups), the pieces of mushroom more or less disappear into what amounts to a thin cream of mushroom soup (only way better!).

    MissMeliss, that's exactly right. Part of the reason we like this with bread bowls so much is that it's flavorful but not super thick. The fresh bread adds a bit of body.