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Bread Soup (Panade) with Onions, Chard, and Mushrooms

Bread Soup (Panade) with Onions, Chard, and Mushrooms

Rustic, hearty, thick bread soup with onions, chard, mushrooms, thick Italian or French loaf bread, and Parmesan.

Photography Credit:Elise Bauer

What is a panade?

Have you ever encountered a panade (pronounced “pah NAHD”)? It’s basically a casserole of sorts, a baked layered dish with bread the key ingredient. Panade comes from the Latin base “pan” for bread.

But instead of egg as a binder, like you might find in a breakfast casserole, in a panade there are no eggs. Instead the layers of bread, cheese, and other ingredients are cooked in stock. Because of the addition of stock, this dish is also called bread soup.

In fact, thick and filling, it’s really more of a stew than a soup. The bread absorbs much of the liquid.

How to make panade

Although it looks a bit involved, this bread soup is fairly easy to make. Much of the prep can be done while you are toasting the bread cubes. You brown onions and mushrooms, and layer them a couple of times in a Dutch oven with chopped fresh chard and toasted bread croutons.

Add plenty of stock, and some honey sweetened wine. Top everything with grated Parmesan and into the oven it goes. An hour and a half later, a rich, thick beautiful stew. Enjoy!

Bread Soup (Panade) with Onions, Chard, and Mushrooms Recipe

This soup really shines with homemade stock, especially homemade vegetable stock. I do not recommend using boxed or canned veggie stock for this recipe.

Ingredients

  • 12-14 ounces day-old rustic bread, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 cups thinly sliced onions (sliced vertically, from tip to root)
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 6 to 8 ounces cremini or button mushrooms, sliced 1/4-inch thick
  • 10 to 12 ounces fresh chard, rinsed
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme (or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme)
  • 1/2 cup hearty red wine
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 quarts stock (chicken, beef, or vegetable, use vegetable stock for vegetarian option)
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Method

1 Brown the cubed bread in the oven: Pre-heat oven to 350°F. Toss the cubed bread with a tablespoon of olive oil, sprinkle with a little salt. Arrange bread on a baking sheet and toast for 20-30 minutes (check timing!) or until nicely browned.

2 Gently cook the sliced onions, add the garlic: While the cubed bread is in the oven, prepare the onions. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil and the butter on medium heat in a 5 to 7 quart Dutch oven. Add the onions and stir to coat with the butter and oil. Cook gently, stirring occasionally for 10 to 15 minutes.

If the onions begin to dry out at all, lower the heat. They should begin to caramelize and lightly brown.

Add the garlic, cook for a minute more, remove from heat.

3 Dry sauté the mushrooms: While the onions are browning, heat a large sauté pan on medium high heat. Add the sliced mushrooms. "Dry" sauté them (sauté without any added fat) until they release their moisture and are lightly browned.

4 Prep the chard: Cut away the tough central stems of the the chard leaves. Cut across the leaves into 1-inch wide strips.

5 Layer Dutch oven with onions, chard, mushrooms, bread, spices: Remove half of the browned onions from the Dutch oven and set aside. Spread the remaining onions evenly over the bottom of the pot.

Layer over with half of the chard and half of the browned mushrooms. Sprinkle with pepper, half a teaspoon of salt, and thyme.

Put down a layer of toasted bread cubes. Add the remaining onions, chard, and mushrooms. Layer on top the remaining bread cubes.

6 Add honey wine mixture: Mix together the honey and wine, until the honey is dissolved. Pour over the bread mixture. Pour the broth over everything.

7 Scatter the top evenly with the grated cheese.

8 Bake in oven: Cover the pot with foil (not the lid) and seal it around the edges. Cut 4 or 5 vent holes in the top. Put it in a 350°F (175°C) oven. Bake for 1 hour 15 minutes. Serve immediately, digging into the layers to get a bit of everything for each portion, or let cool and refrigerate, covered.

To reheat, gently simmer a portion until hot. Plate and garnish with additional cheese and thyme.

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