The Healthiest Way to Eat Bread

Weeknight Tuscan Ribollita Soup

January 8, 2018

It’s that time of year, when we’re all trying to eat healthier—and for some of us, that might have meant a New Year’s resolution to cut back on the carbs.

One of the toughest to avoid is that favorite dietary staple, bread.

Luckily, there’s a delicious way to have your healthy diet and eat your bread, too: Sourdough.

“The benefit of sourdough is all about its simple starter base,” says registered dietician Stephanie Middleberg, author of The Big Book of Organic Baby Food. “The base is made from just flour and water, which is left to ferment. During the time of fermentation, this mixture supports the growth of natural yeast and friendly bacteria. The bacteria will pre-digest the flour and decrease the level of phytates [mineral-absorption blockers], making the B vitamins and minerals more available. The result is a bread that is rich in probiotics, minerals, folate and antioxidant levels.”

Another benefit to sourdough is that “It may also be easier to digest,” Middleberg adds. “We’ve found that people who have a slight gluten sensitivity—not celiac—may tolerate sourdough better than regular bread because of the gluten that is pre-digested during the fermentation process.”

Aside from toast and sandwiches, there are lots of tasty ways to enjoy sourdough. Grab a loaf and make one of these delicious recipes from Artisan Sourdough Made Simple.


Weeknight Tuscan Ribollita

  • Serves: 4
Weeknight Tuscan Ribollita Soup


  • 2 tbsp (30 ml) olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 medium carrot, diced
  • 1 small celery stalk, diced
  • 1 heaped cup (80 g) shredded cabbage
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 large clove of garlic, sliced
  • 1 tbsp (16 g) tomato paste
  • 1 to 2 quarts (1 to 2 L) chicken stock, plus more as needed
  • 4 small Yukon Gold or Red Bliss potatoes, diced
  • 1 small bunch of Tuscan kale, shredded
  • 1 cup (250 g) white beans, rinsed and drained
  • Rustic Pumpernickel (page 88) or a sourdough bread of your choice
  • 1 garlic clove, halved
  • Extra celery leaves (optional)
  • Parmesan cheese, to taste


  1. In a large, heavy-bottom pot, warm the olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the onions, carrots, celery, and cabbage, and season with salt and pepper. Sauté until soft, about 5 to 6 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant.
  2. Add the tomato paste and stir well to dissolve. Pour in 1 quart (1 L) of chicken stock. Bring the soup to a gentle boil, then add the potatoes and kale. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, with the lid tilted, until the vegetables are cooked through, about 30 to 40 minutes. Add more chicken stock as needed or to your liking. Stir in the white beans and warm through.
  3. About 10 minutes before serving, toast or grill the bread, or simply cut into slices. Drizzle with olive oil and rub with a cut clove of garlic while still warm. Season with a touch of salt and pepper. Ladle your soup into bowls and top with extra celery leaves and Parmesan cheese. Serve piping hot with your delicious bread for dunking.

Rum Raisin Bread Pudding

  • Serves: 4
Rum Raisin Bread Pudding


  • 2 cups (480 ml) whole milk
  • 6 large eggs
  • ¼ cup (50 g) sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 tbsp (28 g) unsalted butter, plus more for coating
  • 2 tbsp (30 ml) dark rum
  • 6 slices day-old Everyday Sourdough (page 26), cubed, about 6 cups (240 g)
  • Handful of raisins or currants
  • 2 tbsp (30 ml) caramel sauce
  • Powdered sugar, for sprinkling


  1. For the custard, gently warm the milk in a small saucepan over low heat. Meanwhile, whisk the eggs, sugar, and salt in a medium bowl. Slowly pour the warm milk into the egg mixture, whisking continuously to combine. Then pour the custard back into the pan.
  2. Adjust the heat to medium-low and cook the custard until slightly thick, stirring often to prevent it from scorching on the bottom of the pan, about 10 to 15 minutes. The final texture should be similar to heavy cream, but not thick like pudding. Stir in the butter to melt and add the rum. Strain the custard through a fine-mesh sieve.
  3. Add the bread cubes to a large bowl, along with a handful of raisins. Pour the warm custard over the bread. Toss well to combine. Let the mixture sit for at least 30 minutes to absorb the custard.
  4. Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 350°F (180°C). Generously coat a 9 × 13-inch (23 × 33-cm) pan or oval baking dish with butter. Sprinkle the bottom and sides of the pan with sugar to coat.
  5. Spoon the bread into the baking dish, pouring any leftover custard over the top. The amount of custard left over will depend on how fresh or stale your bread is. Drizzle with the caramel sauce. Bake for about 30 to 35 minutes, or until the bread pudding is set. It should be golden brown, with a soft center. And it will smell divine. Sprinkle with powdered sugar to serve.


Recipes excerpted from Artisan Sourdough Made Simple by Emilie Raffa, Page Street Publishing Co., 2017. Photos by Emilie Raffa.