A Feast in One Pot: Tomato-Lentil Soup in Bread Bowls With Cheese Sandwiches and Bread Pudding

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Introduction: A Feast in One Pot: Tomato-Lentil Soup in Bread Bowls With Cheese Sandwiches and Bread Pudding

Imagine this scenario:

Valentine's Day is approaching, and you'd like to prepare a special meal for a special someone, but:

  • You don't have a real kitchen available to you. Perhaps you are in a dorm, or a rented room, or a transient living situation.
  • You'd like to make something that looks like it took a long time, without actually taking a long time.
  • You'd like to be able to pay attention to your special someone instead of paying attention to your special meal preparations.

Here's what we'll do: We'll make a three-course meal, using only a bread machine. The machine will do the cooking at each step, leaving you free to prepare for the next step and perhaps to interact or eat your current portion with your someone.

Won't that be nice?

Supplies:

For the bread:

  • 1 cup warm water
  • 3 Tbs oil
  • 3 cups white flour
  • 3 Tbs sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp yeast

For the soup:

  • canned tomato soup
  • 1/2 cup lentils
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup milk
  • spices to taste: cumin, ginger, garlic, onion, salt, pepper

For the sandwiches:

  • bread from previous step
  • 2 slices cheddar cheese
  • 2 portions Velveeta cheese
  • mustard or other spread

For the bread pudding:

  • roughly 1/2 to 1 cup ice cream, melted
  • bread from previous step
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup cranberries or other additions
  • caramel syrup or other topping

Tools:

  • bread machine
  • aluminum foil
  • large bowls for soup
  • small bowls or mugs for pudding

Step 1: Here's the Plan

This is the overall plan of attack:

  1. Bake bread the night before.
  2. Prepare soup and sandwiches for meal.
  3. While soup is cooking, prepare dessert.
  4. Eat your meal.
  5. Dessert will finish cooking, so eat dessert.

The goal with all-in-one bread-machine cooking is to overcome the machine's primary limitation:

You must wait for the machine to cool down completely before you can use it again.

This means you have two options if you want to use it fully. The first is to plan ahead and allow the time it takes to cook and cool, and the second is to cook multiple items on the same heating cycle.

This guide will do both.

Step 2: Why Do This? an Exploration of Bread-Machine Techniques

This guide is less about a recipe, and more about techniques. The idea is to demonstrate the wide variety of possibilities open to you if you master the art of cooking with a bread machine, or as I like to think of it, a fully robotic automated cooking machine that the bread industry got to first.

Something that other kitchen-counter appliances have going for them that bread machines do not is the idea of accessories and attachments. The Instant Pot and the KitchenAid stand mixer are both good examples of machines that have a number of additional features opened up because of their vibrant accessory ecosystem.

Sadly, bread machines do not have that, so we will have to improvise and make our own. We will make a Bread Pan Divider, a Steam-Proof Lid, a basic Grill Top, and possibly a Bowl Stand.

You can use these improvised accessories in any kind of bread machine. They are safe and won't harm your machine.

Step 3: Make Bread Ahead of Time

The night before your special meal, prepare a simple loaf of bread. This should be straightforward since this is, after all, what the machine is made for.

I made a very boring, basic white bread, because the goal is to use the bread for multiple meal components. If you choose to make yours fancier, consider how the bread will pair with:

  • the soup
  • the sandwiches
  • the dessert

A sweet bread might enhance the dessert, but won't go well with a savory soup; meanwhile a delicate, airy dough might not have the strength to serve as a good bowl or a sandwich base.

Make a two-pound loaf, and be sure to take the mixing paddles out before baking. Since we want to make this bread into bowls, it will be neater if we don't have to tear the paddles out. (If you forget, or your machine does not allow the paddles to be removed, it's no big deal.)

For the bread:

  • 1 cup warm water
  • 3 Tbs oil
  • 3 cups white flour
  • 3 Tbs sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp yeast

Step 4: Special Technique: Double Your Bowls!

We'll be using a simple foil technique to make more than one bread bowl at once. Cooking more than one loaf at a time can be slow with a bread machine, because as previously noted, you have to wait for the machine to cool completely before you make the next batch. So it takes just as long to make small loaves as it does large ones, which ruins your throughput if you want to make "personal"-size items.

However, if you make a foil divider in the pan, you can prepare a two-pound loaf, split into two one-pound balls, and then bake them together!

For best results, push the foil as firmly down into the pan as you can, and let it rise up above the loaf. You want it to conduct as much heat up as possible into the dough in order to develop a crust.

Step 5: Make Your Bread Into Bowls

Something I'm curious about is whether stale bread makes for a better bowl? I don't know. If the answer is yes, then you can do this step the night before your planned meal. If the answer is no, then you can do it while the soup is cooking.

Slice off the top and the bottom of your bowls. You need to slice the bottom off because the bread machine posts poke through, and will leave a hole in your bowl, which is... less than ideal. Because of that hole, after I sliced, I just made this the new "top," and a thin slice off the new "bottom" was enough to make it flat to remain stable in a bowl.

Cut, scoop, or tear out the bread in the center, leaving a generously thick wall around the sides and bottom. The denser your loaf is, the more leeway you have, and the opposite is true: a light and fluffy loaf needs a thicker wall to remain structurally sound.

Save all the bread as well as the sliced tops and bottoms.

Step 6: Start Your Soup

This is a simple and hearty soup that should be rather thick. We prefer a thick soup over a thin one because the thin soup will just soak quickly into the walls of the bread bowl. Of course, the thick soup will do this too, eventually, but the slower it does, the more attractive the bowl will be in the long run.

For this soup, I used a can of tomato soup with the addition of spices and a half cup of lentils.

  1. Start the bread machine on the "jam" cycle so it will begin to warm up while you prepare the other steps.
  2. Add the lentils and 1 cup of water first.
  3. Add the canned soup and milk next.
  4. Add spices to taste. I used cumin, ginger, onion, garlic, salt, and pepper.
  5. Let the machine cook for at least 20 minutes after it comes up to heat to fully cook the lentils.

It is possible to cook this without a "jam" cycle by using a "bake" cycle, but you will have to (the horror!) stir the soup manually as it cooks from time to time.

For the soup:

  • canned tomato soup
  • 1/2 cup lentils
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup milk
  • spices to taste: cumin, ginger, garlic, onion, salt, pepper


It is also possible to saute your aromatics beforehand by adding onion and garlic and a small amount of olive oil to a fully preheated pan before you add your other ingredients. I have chosen to use powdered spices so this can be a simple "Dump and move on" recipe.

Regardless of whether you choose to use the "jam" or "bake" cycle, make sure you program the bread machine to run as long as possible!

This will be important later, because remember, we are trying to overcome the bread machine's primary limitation.

Step 7: Foil on Top to Protect Your Machine

We will cover the top of the bread machine entirely with foil.

This serves several purposes:

  • The bread machine expects a thick, sometimes stiff jam or dough when it spins the paddles, not a thin, liquid soup. It is very possible for a vigorous robotic stir to splash soup over the sides and make a mess. This is most likely in the very beginning when the water and milk are not incorporated into the mixture completely.
  • The soup contains more moisture than other recipes that the machine expects. While your bread machine has vents on top to dissipate that steam, we don't want to overwhelm it and have the steam condense on the lid, and then run down to the cooking coils. Again, that can make a mess.
  • Covering the top of the pan lets us keep the heat that we are cooking with, and thus cook faster. The bread machine is well-insulated but we can help it out.

Place a large sheet of foil over the top of the pan. Crimp it down around the edges of the pan, and let the foil drape over to cover the gap between pan and the insulated walls. Try not to let the foil extend too far past the walls so it won't interfere with the lid when you close it.

Gently tap the center of the foil over the pan to push it down slightly. This will make condensing steam drip back into the pan and not the sides.

Step 8: What Is a Foil-Covered Heating Surface? a Griddle!

Why did we want to cover the gap between the pan and the walls with foil? So we don't get crumbs down in the heating coil!

That's right, when we covered the hot pan, we created a secondary cooking surface. We can cook a set of small sandwiches on this while the soup cooks at the same time.

Take the slices of bread that you cut off to make the bowls, and prepare them to be simple cheese sandwiches.

I used Velveeta and cheddar together because the processed cheese melts very well, and the cheddar has a better flavor. My bread is spread with mustard but you can use whatever simple toppings you like.

Keep your expectations for these sandwiches in check. These are in no way "proper" grilled cheese sandwiches. I'm not brave enough to cover the foil lining with butter to properly fry the bread because I think it would be just too messy. If you try that, let me know how it goes. These are "warm melted-cheese sandwiches."

The slices will probably have a hole in them from the paddles. Keep that side up when you put them on your foil griddle so your cheese doesn't melt out and make a mess.

Close the lid and let the whole combination cook until the soup is done.

For the sandwiches:

  • bread from previous step
  • 2 slices cheddar cheese
  • 2 portions Velveeta cheese
  • mustard or other spread

Step 9: Make a Bread-Pudding Dessert

You should have a good amount of bread left over after you made your bread bowls. While the soup and sandwiches cook, we will prepare a bread pudding for dessert.

Rather than prepare an elaborate custard, we'll use a custard that many people already have access to: melted ice cream! (With an added egg.) I added dried cranberries but you can use whatever additions you might like, such as raisins, coconut, bananas... whatever goes well with your ice-cream flavor.

I served mine with some caramel sauce drizzled over the top.

For the bread pudding:

  • roughly 1/2 to 1 cup ice cream, melted
  • bread from previous step
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup cranberries or other additions
  • caramel syrup or other topping

Step 10: Equal Parts "Custard" and Bread

How much ice cream you need depends on how much bread you have. We want equal parts of each, plus an egg.

I used a kitchen scale to measure my bread, and then the ice cream. If you don't have a kitchen scale, you can try this rough guide of:

1 cup of bread -> 1/3 cup of ice cream

Add the egg to the melted ice cream and beat it in together.

Add the custard to the bread, and stir together, letting the bread get moistened completely.

Add the cranberries or other add-ins as well, and put into small bowls or mugs to cook.

Step 11: Reuse That Jam Cycle, and Cook the Bread Pudding

This step is slightly tricky.

Once the soup and sandwiches are done cooking, do the following as quickly as possible, because you won't turn off the machine. The goal is to use the remainder of the cooking time from the jam or bake cycle to cook your bread pudding. If you turn off the machine, you will have to wait for it to cool down before you can start the cooking cycle again.

  1. Remove the pan from the machine, and pour the soup out into bowls for serving or storing.
  2. Take out the paddles and set aside.
  3. Quickly clean the pan of soup residue. (Carefully, because it will be hot.)
  4. Put the pan back into the bread machine.
  5. Put your bread pudding into the pan.
  6. Cook for 45 minutes or until done.

To get my bowls to fit in the pan, I placed one set of bowls in the pan upside down, on top of the paddle posts, then set the pudding bowls on top of those. If you do not have small bowls that will fit in the pan, you can make a support out of foil, and use small mugs instead.

Keep in mind that the posts will still be spinning when you make your foil supports! Build a small gap so the supports remain stable.

Step 12: Enjoy Your Meal for Two!

I hope you enjoy your meal, and even more, I hope you use the time that the machine was cooking for you to spend with your special someone.

Bread Speed Challenge

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Bread Speed Challenge

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    12 Comments

    0
    Dexter Song
    Dexter Song

    11 days ago

    One question I have is how some breads get that hard crust.

    0
    Joerg Engels
    Joerg Engels

    Reply 4 days ago

    Crusts come into existence when proteins coagulate and starch flocculates (Maillard reaction and caramelisation). The crust can be improved by adding British gum (dextrin), steaming at the beginning of the baking procedure or brushing the bread with water right at the end. In my profile you can find an ible about rye bread that can help you to get a hard crust on your bread.

    0
    jkimball
    jkimball

    Best Answer 10 days ago

    Crust has a lot of options, mostly related to moisture content in the dough, and temperature of the oven.
    In the bread machine, if your machine has a "crust control" option, you can use that to make things lighter or darker. You can also take the dough out earlier or later.

    If you have already made the recipe, you can try to adjust the amount of water or liquid when you make it again, but it is hard to know ahead of time.

    One thing you can't do with a bread machine is swap pans or adjust the baking temperature. (unless you have a very fancy machine)

    0
    Projectile_Lover
    Projectile_Lover

    10 days ago

    Umm, so if no one else enters the challenge, do you win xD

    0
    Dexter Song
    Dexter Song

    Reply 8 days ago

    I think, or it just gets called off idk.

    0
    jessyratfink
    jessyratfink

    Reply 8 days ago

    We've never had a contest close with less entries than prizes - I'm guessing we'll end up with at least 50 entries :)

    0
    Dexter Song
    Dexter Song

    Reply 4 days ago

    if there are like 6 entries I am literally going to make a pb and j lol.

    0
    gralan
    gralan

    8 days ago

    I ate stew from a bread bowl 40+ yo, but now I have a bread machine and can easily follow directions. Thank you for such a clear example of the usefulness of that machine. I was near the point of giving up on it.

    0
    jessyratfink
    jessyratfink

    11 days ago

    Ohhh yes all the bread please :D

    0
    jkimball
    jkimball

    Reply 8 days ago

    Yeah, this is probably at least 6 servings of bread per person in this meal.

    We could not finish it but does anyone really eat an entire bread bowl?

    0
    Dexter Song
    Dexter Song

    Reply 11 days ago

    Bread.