Today was one of those rainy-dreary days — not that we’re complaining mind you, we get very few rainy-dreary days in the desert, but lots of blasty-hot ones — just perfect for soup, so we thought we’d put some together for lunch. Naturally, we though of you, our reader, too.
So, between today and tomorrow, we are putting together a Tuscan Bean soup with rosemary croutons. No, no, it doesn’t take two days to make it; it’s less than an hour, but thanks to computers and all, we’ll tackle it over the next two days, starting with the rosemary croutons. Since croutons, in general, are so versatile and easy to make, they can stand on their own recipe-wise. And these croutons would go really well on a Caesar salad.
Oh, and the idea for the rosemary croutons comes from Fields of Greens by Annie Somerville. We didn’t really use her recipe, just the name, but it’s not as if it’ll be much different. After all, I think someone once said: A crouton’s, a crouton, all the world around.
- Chunks of stale bread
- 1/4 tsp dried rosemary
- 1/2 tsp crushed garlic (about 1 clove)
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 Tbs olive oil
You, of course, have a bag full of stale bread in the freezer, right? We do; it’s perfect for stuffing, bread soup, and, of course, croutons. If you don’t keep your stale pieces of bread, now’s the time to start, although we’d really recommend using good stale bread for croutons. Good-stale? Yes, it sounds like a contradiction, but croutons shouldn’t be made with yucky white bread that comes in a plastic bag, they need a bit of texture, some chew. Nothing makes for a worse crouton than it turning into crouton dust the minute you bite into it. Eww.
If you have fresh rosemary, use that and instead of crushing (below), chop finely.
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Cut up bread. Just cut it into rough cube-like shapes about 1/2-3/4 of an inch on a side. Not too big, because these will go in your mouth, and a 3-inch crouton might not fit.
Crush rosemary. In a medium bowl, crush the dried rosemary between your fingers until you have mostly small pieces. You could use a mortar & pestle, or the back of a spoon, but if you use your fingers, they’ll smell like rosemary, which, to our minds, is a good thing.
Make crouton gravy. Add the garlic, salt, and olive oil and stir until well mixed. Not blender-mixed, but mixed. We think it’s nice that some croutons have a bit more salt, rosemary, or garlic, than others. Variety is good, too.
Stir in bread. Take all those bread cubes you spent valuable time cutting up, dump them into the bowl, and stir around until coated.
Place on baking sheet. Now dump the bread cubes out unto a rimmed baking sheet, spread them into one layer, and place them in the oven.
Bake. Bake for about 30 minutes, stirring and testing occasionally. When they are crisp, they are done.
Simple. We never buy croutons, as we save our stale bread, and it takes so little effort to scratch them up. Plus, they are far, far, better than anything from a box. Five.