If you are baking bread this time of year, you know that sometimes you end up with a little more bread then you bargained for! There are times when we can’t eat it fast enough, or when we just want an excuse to eat more bread at more meals.
Croutons add a lovely crunch to soups and salads. They are so easy to make and customize, they are quicker to make then to buy and use up older loaves of good hearty bread. Don’t be afraid to use store bought bread for homemade croutons, those turn out delicious as well!
There is one trick thought… the way you “cut” the bread. You don’t actually cut it, but tear it apart with a fork and your thumb.
This way the shapes are irregular and craggy, and it creates a lighter, crisper crouton then when the bread is simply cut in to cubes.
Then the bread pieces get tossed onto a large baking sheet, coated lightly with olive oil, and sprinkled with herbs de provence or any seasoning, really, that you like.
Try some of these fun crouton combos:
Pumpkin soup topper: toss artisan ciabatta or even shredded up pita with a little red curry and cumin
Broccoli cheddar soup: use rye bread and dried or chopped fresh dill
Beef stew: onion bread and shreds of parmesan cheese tossed in with the bread pieces, along with finely chopped rosemary
Of course, any of these would be good on a salad, dressed accordingly. My favorite is a mix of whatever bread I have and Italian seasoning or a salt-free all purpose seasoning. It’s simple and delicious!
- Day old (or older) good bread, about 2 cups
- Olive oil for drizzling
- 2 teaspoons herbs de provence or other seasoning
- a generous sprinkle of salt
- a few grinds of fresh pepper (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 350. Tear the bread with a fork and thumb, creating large uneven pieces.
- Put all the bread on a large rimmed baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil until all the pieces are lightly coated.
- Sprinkle with herbs and toss to mix.
- Bake, checking after 6 minutes and stirring once or twice. Return to the oven and bake 4-6 more minutes.
- Croutons are done when fragrant, and lightly dry to the touch.
- Cool on the baking sheet, and the croutons will crisp further as they cool.
- To store leftover croutons, put in a plastic bag or container and store on the counter or fridge. To re-crisp, heat an oven to 350 and spread on a baking sheet. Bake 4-6 minutes, watching them carefully.