In the midst of winter, few things are as nourishing and comforting as homemade soup and warm, crusty bread — especially when that bread is fresh out of the oven, still warm, and slathered in butter.
Homemade bread can seem a little daunting, but it doesn’t need to be. This Crusty Olive Rosemary loaf is easy, requires no kneading, and is perfect for making while soup is slowly simmering on the stove or in a crockpot.
At 8:00 in the morning, simply mix together the correct measures of flour, salt, yeast, water, olives, and fresh rosemary in a large bowl, cover it with plastic wrap, and leave it to rest on the counter or set in the microwave until 4:00 or 5:00 p.m.
Place an empty, lidded cast iron pot into the oven and preheat it to 450 degrees. Leave the pot in the oven for 30 minutes. After 30-45 minutes, remove pot from oven, add dough, and return to oven. Cook for 45 minutes with the lid on, remove the lid and bake for 10-15 minutes more until crust is golden brown.
Once the bread is baked, let it cool on a wire rack and slice as needed. Keep it in an airtight container so it doesn’t dry out. You can also freeze it for later use. Simply remove from freezer a couple of hours before you need it.
The beauty of this bread is its versatility. Mixing and matching with additions can make it a delicious pairing for any of your favorite soups.
Studded with olives and rosemary, this version goes beautifully with tomato based soups such as chili, stew, and savory tortilla soup.
For starchier soups like pasta and potato, consider a cheesy onion bread instead. Simply replace the olives and rosemary with a strong cheddar and caramelized onions. If you prefer clear soups with lots of veggies, make a bread studded with an array of seeds such as pumpkin, poppy, and sunflower.
Easy Olive Rosemary Bread
- 2 1/2 cups whole white flour
- 1/2 cups white flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
- 3/4 cup Kalamata olives, roughly chopped
- 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves
- 3/4 teaspoon yeast
- 1 3/4 cups water
In a medium bowl, stir together flour, salt, and yeast. Stir in olives and rosemary.
Add water and mix until dough forms. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and set in microwave for eight hours or overnight.
Place lidded cast iron pot in cold oven and heat to 450 degrees. Leave for 30 minutes.
While it heats, dump dough onto floured surface and gently shape into a ball. DO NOT KNEAD.
Remove hot pot from the oven and drop in the dough. Cover and bake for 30 minutes, then remove the lid and bake 15 minutes more until crust is golden brown.
Remove bread from oven and place on a cooling rack to cool. Once cut, store in airtight container so it doesn’t dry out.
All photos are courtesy of the author.