Tuesday, October 30, 2012

In the Belly of the Bread

"Bread Soup: An Old Icelandic Recipe"

Start with the square heavy loaf
steamed a whole day in a hot spring
until the coarse rye, sugar, yeast
grow dense as a black hole of bread.
Let it age and dry a little,
then soak the old loaf for a day
in warm water flavored
with raisins and lemon slices.
Boil it until it is thick as molasses.
Pour it in a flat white bowl.
Ladle a good dollop of whipped cream
to melt in its brown belly.
This soup is alive as any animal,
and the yeast and cream and rye
will sing inside you after eating
for a long time.

— Bill Holm
from Playing the Black Piano
Milkweed Editions, 2004


  1. As the weather changes, this is such a warm, comforting poem. Very different....

    1. That's what I thought, Ashling, comforting. It is unusual, isn't it? And part of its charm. :)

  2. Almost like a bread pudding soup.i have seen many variations, yet like that this one will sing to me.

    1. I do love bread pudding.... and this one sings for a long time.

  3. Wow - that sounds absolutely delicious -- I wish I was a cook -- maybe I can talk someone into making it for me. I am such a simpleton in the kitchen. Your photo looks like a man I once knew!
    -- barbara

    1. That is the poet, Bill Holm. He was a Minnesota poet of high regard.

  4. Dear Teresa, this recipe/poem by Bill Holm welcomes in the chill of winter here. And it reminds me of a new bread pudding recipe I tried recently. The kitchen became redolent of heaven while the pudding baked. It had snipped raisins and apricots in it as well as stale French bread and half-and-half. So delicious! Peace.

    1. Oh how I love bread pudding. A friend who has passed from this life used to make it with meringue on top. I've not yet, but I'm so tempted! Yours sounds wonderful!

  5. It's a lovely poem, Teresa but the recipe seems a bit onerous to me for a loaf. Bread pudding though - now you're talking. My grandmother, who was Irish, made it with goats' milk and raisins. Paradise. Haven't had it since I was eight.

    1. Hi Tony! Maybe its being "onerous" is what makes it sing in your belly. :) And then there's the whipped cream... what's not to like about that?

      Yes, bread pudding. Nothing quite like it. Except maybe cheesecake....

      Perhaps you should make some! Eight years old was a few weeks ago.... :)