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Welcome Winter with Hearty Homemade Soup and Bread

Mary Krystinak, of Mary’s Wholesome Living, in West Chicago, is an avid cook and educator of all things sustainable. She teaches classes covering scratch cooking and baking, home canning, fermentation and more throughout the Western Suburbs. Krystinak shares two hearty recipes sure to bring comfort and warmth as Midwest winter chills set in.


English Muffin Loaves

Yields: 2 loaves

2 cups milk

½ cup water

5-6 cups all-purpose flour (divided)

4½ tsp active dry yeast (or 2 packages)

1 Tbsp of sugar

¼ tsp baking soda

Spray oil for pans

Cornmeal for dusting


Preheat oven to 400 ° F. Grease and sprinkle two 8½” by 4½” by 2½” loaf pans with cornmeal. Tap upside-down to remove excess cornmeal. Combine milk and water in small saucepan. Heat over low heat until very warm (120 to 130 ° F).

Place 4 of the 6 cups of flour in the mixing bowl of a stand mixer. Add the yeast, sugar, salt and baking soda. Attach dough hook. Turn to speed 2 and mix for 15 seconds. With mixer on 2, gradually add warm liquids to flour mixture for about 30 seconds. Scrape down sides with spatula and mix 1 minute longer on speed 2. Continuing on speed 2, add remaining flour ½ cup at a time (only 5½ cups may be needed). Knead on speed 2 for 2 minutes longer. Dough will be very sticky.

Using a spatula, scoop and spread dough into the loaf pans. Wet fingers to help with sticky dough. Cover loosely with a kitchen towel and let rise in warm place free from drafts until doubled in size—30 to 45 minutes. Bake at 400 ° F
for 25 minutes. Remove from pans immediately and let cool on wire rack. Slice when cool, toast, butter and enjoy.


Roasted Tomato Fennel Soup

Yields: 6 to 8 servings

3 pounds ripe plum tomatoes cut lengthwise and cored

¼ cup olive oil

1 tsp kosher salt

½ tsp freshly ground black pepper

1 leek white part only, finely chopped (about 2 cups)

1 small fennel bulb, trimmed, cored and thickly sliced

3 carrots, peeled and roughly chopped

6 cloves garlic, peeled

¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped

¼ cup fresh basil cut into long, thin strips (keep some for garnish)

1 qt vegetable (or chicken) stock


Position oven racks in upper and lower thirds of oven. Preheat to 425 ° F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment. Place tomatoes cut side up, close together. Tuck in carrots, leek, fennel and garlic. Drizzle all with olive oil. Roast about 1 hour until the edges caramelize.

Remove from oven and cool slightly. Combine tomatoes, veggies, juice from roasting, basil and parsley into a large stockpot. Using an immersion blender, puree until smooth. Add veggie stock, salt and pepper, stir well and simmer 15 minutes. Serve with fresh bread.

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