Soup bread with herbs and cheese

Soup bread with herbs and cheese

This bread is quick and easy to make, and it’s very satisfying to knead. Here, I’ve used my preferred mix of herbs and spices, but use whatever you like or whatever you think will go well with your soup. You can use fresh or dried herbs, spices, spice mixes, or even add finely chopped olives or sundried tomatoes. Just don’t add too-big pieces or too much of anything, as it may weigh your bread down.

Makes: 1 loaf


500g strong white flour (plus extra for adjustments)
7g instant or easy-bake yeast
8g salt
1tbsp honey
350ml cold water (or lukewarm if you’re short on time)
A little olive oil for the bowl

For the filling:
Two handfuls fresh herbs (my favourite combination is parsley and oregano)
Two cloves finely chopped (or crushed) garlic
1tbsp melted butter
150g grated mature cheddar

2–3tsp dried herbs
1tsp garlic salt
1tbsp melted butter
150g grated mature cheddar


  1. Add the yeast and flour to a bowl and give it a quick mix.
  2. Dissolve the salt and honey in the water. Make a well in the middle of the flour and add roughly 2/3 of the liquid.
  3. Bring the dough together with a large wooden spoon or your hands, adding more water a little at a time until the dough comes together and all the flour is ’picked up’ from the sides of the bowl. You may not need all the water. If, for whatever reason, your dough is too sloppy and doesn’t hold together, add a little more flour, just a tablespoon at a time.
  4. Tip the dough onto a lightly floured surface and start kneading. The dough will be a bit sticky at first, but keep kneading. Soon, it will become smooth and elastic.
  5. Knead until your dough feels almost silky, then do the windowpane test: pinch part of the dough and stretch it. If you can stretch it thinly enough that light can shine through without it breaking, you can stop kneading.
  6. Pick out any remaining dough or flour in the bowl and drizzle it with a little olive oil. Shape the dough into a smooth ball and place it back in the bowl. Cover with plastic and leave to double in size. This will take from 45 minutes to 3 hours depending on the temperature of the room and water.
  7. Tip the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and, with a rolling pin, shape it into a large rectangle. The short end will be the length of your loaf, so if you want to use a bread tin when baking, make it a little shorter than your bread tin.
  8. Drizzle or brush the dough with melted butter, then sprinkle with your finely chopped or dried herbs and garlic, and most of the cheese – keep a little back for sprinkling on top. Roll the dough into a spiral. Place on a baking sheet covered with baking paper, tucking the ends in under the loaf to ‘close’ the spiral – or place into a large bread tin with the seam side down.
  9. Cover the loaf lightly with plastic and leave it to double in size (approximately 45–90 minutes depending on room temperature). You can test if the dough is ready by giving it a poke. If it springs back quickly, it still needs some time; if it springs back slowly and your poke leaves a small dip, you’re good to go. (If it doesn’t spring back at all, you may have left it too long. Get it into the oven right away and don’t slash it as described below.)
  10. Preheat the oven to 250°C. Gently rub or spray some water onto the bread and sprinkle a little cheese on top. Make three or four diagonal slashes in the surface with a sharp knife or lame. Place the bread in the middle of the oven and turn the heat down to 200°C.
  11. Bake for 30–40 minutes until the bread is golden brown and makes a hollow sound when you tap it underneath. (If the crust looks like it’s getting too dark, cover the loaf with some aluminium foil. This will let the bread keep baking without burning the crust.)
  12. Let the bread cool on a wire rack before cutting or tearing it into chunks. Serve with your favourite soup or stew.

Alternative fillings

You can fill the bread with whatever you like, just remember not to add too much moisture or too-large pieces. Here are some of our favourites.

For cold evenings:
Finely chopped sundried tomatoes, crushed red pepper and garlic salt (with or without cheese)

For a Greek flare:
Finely chopped green olives, crumbled feta cheese, oregano and cumin

For your salmon dinner or fish soup:
Finely chopped fresh dill, lemon zest and onion granules

For dark stews:
Chopped walnuts, blue cheese, black pepper