IMBB 25: Good uses for Stale Bread: A Simple Bread Soup

Posted by Max


In the small household I grew up, there was always an issue with bread. Either it was gone because it was fresh and very good, or it was not that fresh anymore, and stayed until stale. To clear up this stale bread, my mother made a simple soup out of it. This simple recipe fits very well in Is My Blog Burning, edition 25, hosted by Derrick Schneider's An Obsession with Food.

Even now, in my own small household, it can happen that bread is left over, and accumulates over a few days, which means that I occasionally dig out that recipe and take care of that bread. The soup is really warming, and quite filling. And, because of the variety of bread I have available, the results are never exactly the same.

A Simple Breadsoup

  • Hard stale bread
  • 50 g butter
  • Soup stock cubes
  • Freshly grated mature Gruyère cheese

Cut the bread into cubes, about 1 inch wide. It does not matter that much if the pieces get smaller.

Put a soup pot on high heat and melt the butter.

Pour the bread in the pot and stir it, trying to cover every piece with some butter. Continue stirring, dry roasting the bread. This is a bit a smoky matter, therefore make sure that the exhaust fan is working.

When every piece of bread has some charred spots (that will be the case after about 10 minutes), pull the pot off the heat and add water until the bread pieces are well covered. Put the pot back on heat and bring it to boil.

Crumble soup stock cubes for the amount of liquid into the soup. It does not really matter what kind of soup base you are using. Beef makes it a bit stronger, but vegetable or chicken works equally well.

Reduce the heat and let it simmer for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. The bread pieces will soak up the liquid, and it might be necessary to add a bit more water.

Taste, season if needed (mainly pepper, as the soup stock has brought in enough salt), serve into bowls and sprinkle a little freshly grated mature Gruyère on it. Enjoy.

There are possible variations with this recipe. If the look of the soaked up bread pieces is offending to your eye, you can puree the soup. In fact, this might be the more likely way it is served in a restaurant. You might also crush the bread or grind it up coarsely before roasting.

A note about the pot. Roasting can be a bit hard on the pot, therefore, I would recommend to not use a non-stick pot, but better a rather robust stainless steel pot. When roasting the cubes, crumbs break off and get burned and stick to the bottom. A stainless steel pot is easier to clean...

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i just posted a comment and it vanished...anyways I said that using a non-stick pot would make more sense than using a stainless steel one...because cleaning of a non-stick pot is easier...I think you mistakely wrote it wrong...

Nabeela: Actually, my comment was absolutely intentional. For this bread soup, you can get some very high temperatures in the pot, and that can damage the non-stick surface. You will also have to stir the bread with a sturdier tool than you would do something liquid (which means that silicone would be too soft). A wooden spatula might not damage the surface that much, but metal definitely will.

When it comes to cleaning, because you will have some burning, it is easier to clean the smooth stainless surface than the not as smooth and more sensitive non-stick surface.

If you think about it, that recipe has its roots from rural Switzerland, and the most likely pot used at the time was even a heavy cast iron pot.

I actually make a faux french onion soup this way. I roast the bread, sautee some onions, dump both in a pot, cover with broth made with boullion cubes, and grate in some cheese. The onion adds a nice flavor. I suppose for a proper French onion soup, you'd just add some wine or brandy. In any case, I hadn't thought of trying it without the onions - even simpler!


Welcome to the world of food blogging, and thanks so much for participating in this edition. The soup looks great.

I'm just about to leave my home for a few weeks and had very little food left in the kitchen. Just a quarter of a bread machine made sweet potato & squash loaf that had gone stale.
This recipe was perfect! Just the inspiration I needed.
I added the cooked onions that kasia mentions and, because I didn't have gruyere, included some parmesan rind and finished off with grated dry parmesan and broke up some fresh mozzarella into the serving bowls. The soup became a gorgeous, thick, divinely stringy helping of pure comfort - especially with the weather in London being so miserable tonight.