A taste of The Baking Sheet: Have supper with us

Is there anything more comforting in winter than a pot of soup on the stove and bread in the oven? Bakers, by their very nature, possess the perfect antidote to winter’s cold and dark.

As the seasons turn, The Baking Sheet features original recipes to suit. I get lots of emails from readers telling me the arrival of their latest issue is an event that causes them to carve out some time in their favorite chair, hot beverage nearby, to read, enjoy, and plan meals to come.

From Sylvia S. in Chester, SC: I love The Baking Sheet! The comments along with the recipes give a lot of insight into many baking issues. And I especially appreciate the Weight Watchers points being included—that “gives me permission” to try (and eat….) the recipes. Thank you so much!

For winter, we’re featuring several hearty soups and breads to pair with them; I’d like to share one of the soups with you here. Let’s talk about Pottage first.

I came across this idea when I found a Web site that dealt with food history: pottage is a dish that was cooked in a cauldron hung on a hook over a fire, and this one stays faithful to medieval times, when New World ingredients were as yet unknown.

I’ve since learned from an alert reader and food historian that the green beans in the ingredients list aren’t strictly legitimate: peas or lentils were common, but green beans are from the Americas, too. So if you want your meal to have the true time travel effect, use some peas instead of green beans.

No tomatoes or potatoes, eggplants or yams were in use in Europe until Tudor times. When I read over the article, I immediately thought, “root cellar soup!”

Pottage is part soup, part stew, depending on how long it’s been cooking and how much grain you add to it. If you participate in a year-round CSA, this is a great way to use some of what’s showing up in your basket. You can make it as thin or thick as you like, use any kind of meat stock or scraps you have, and if you can eat gluten, you can use barley instead of oats to thicken the dish. The vegetables have so much flavor that you can easily skip the meat and make the soup with vegetable broth for a vegan dish.

I’ve made this twice now, once with fresh and once with dried herbs, and with the exception of the rosemary, dried seem to do a better job of perfuming and flavoring the soup over its simmering time.

This soup could be made in a slow cooker on low, too; it’ll need at least 4 hours and could go as long as 8 – just don’t add the oats until the last hour of cooking.

If you have a crowd to feed, you can get out your big kettle and double or triple this; pottage will expand to feed as many mouths as needed (remember the children’s book Stone Soup?). If the soup gets thicker than you’d like, thin with water or more broth as needed. If you have kids who like the story Stone Soup, you can tell them this is the recipe. It’ll be a fun way to get a lot of good nutrition down the hatch.

Making the soup involves some knife work. To make the soup easy to eat, all of the vegetables and chunks of meat should be about the same size: no bigger than a half inch square.

For Pottage, you’ll need (clockwise from top left) turnips or rutabagas, carrots, parsnips, celery root (or celery; the recipe doesn’t specifically call for it, but if you have or like it, so much the better), and onions. Not pictured above, but also in the recipe: mushrooms, leeks, cabbage, and lentils or peas, for vegetables.

Then you’ll need stock, bay leaves, sage, thyme rosemary, and parsley. Last, 1 pound of protein (smoked meats or sausages are particularly nice), some oats (gluten-free if that’s how you’re eating), broth or stock, and salt and pepper to taste. The recipe lists specific amounts, but you can use as much as or as little as you like.

To clean the leeks, trim the darker green leaves, which can be tough. Slit the leek from an inch above the root end all the way out to the top. Turn it upside down and run under water to get out any big chunks of dirt that will ruin your knife. Then dice, and put in a bowl of water to wash any other grit off. Pick the diced leeks up off the water and drain.

Get our your peeler and get those parsnips and carrots naked; turnips, too if you’re using them. For rutabagas or celery root, it’s best to use your knife to peel the vegetables. Rutabagas have a line about 1/4″ under the skin; make sure your knife travels inside this line (the flesh is less tasty on the outside of this landmark).

Once the vegetables are all prepped, put ’em in a pot with a little vegetable oil, cover, and sweat them (that’s a real live term, by the way; it means they steam in their own juices) for 15 minutes, until they begin to get soft.

vegetables, before and after sweating

From here it’s easy: add the herbs, the stock, meat if you’re using it, and simmer. Add the oats at least half an hour before you plan to eat. This is a nice soup to put on the woodstove, if that’s how you heat your house. It’s also something you can put in a slow cooker and let take care of itself. Do the vegetables on high for about an hour, then give the soup another 2 hours on high after the stock goes in. The oats can go be added anytime after the second hour. After that, it’s up to you how long you want to cook it; the longer you simmer, the thicker it will get.

What shall we have with our soup? I propose one of the tastiest, quick-to-put-together recipes I know. Faster than a biscuit, less fussy than a dinner roll, tasty and full of whole grains: Rieska. Rieska will be making its appearance in the Early Spring issue, which is headed to the printer as I write this.

From Finland, and a time before fermented loaves, Rieska is simple and uses what was readily available. Once upon a time Finns baked flatbreads with holes in the center, and strung them up on a rope near the ceiling to store them until they were used. This recipe takes the spirit of that ancient Finnish bread and updates it a bit to make it useful for today.

Rieska can be made with rye or barley flour, and is sometimes found with potato flour in the mix, too. If made with a little less liquid and rolled particularly flat, it’s a nice partner to some gravlax or smoked salmon. Our version is more in the camp of a biscuit/quick bread.

First, preheat the oven to 500°F. That’s not a typo: this bread was designed to be baked in a hot, wood-burning cookstove, and 500°F is as close as your oven at home can get.

Next, set up your pan. I’m using a 9″ x 13″ pan, lined with a piece of parchment paper, held in place with two spring clips from the stationery store.

They’re metal, so they’re fine to go into the oven. Most of us in the test kitchen can’t bake without them anymore, we’ve become so used to being able to lift our baked goods right out of the pan with the parchment paper “handles” once things are cool.

In a large bowl, combine

1/2 cup (1 1/4 ounces) old-fashioned rolled oats

1 cup (4 ounces) whole rye flour (pumpernickel; you could also use barley flour here)

1 cup (4 1/4 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons (7/8 ounce) sugar

Hmmm. Just realized the oats aren’t in here. Don’t worry, they’ll catch up in a minute.

Cut in

1/4 cup (2 ounces) unsalted butter until it pretty much disappears.

Grab your dough whisk, put the bowl on a scale, and pour in 1 1/2 cups (12 ounces) of buttermilk. And those oats we forgot.

Stir thoroughly until you have a goopy dough; plop it in your pan.

Spread it evenly with an offset spatula,

then pop it in the oven. In 15 minutes (check at 13 to be safe, this goes pretty fast) you’ll have this:

Once cool, lift the bread out of the pan, and cut to whichever size you like. The first picture I showed has the bread cut in 2″ squares, which will feed a crowd. For our supper, we’ll cut the bread into 6 pieces,

and make a fabulous roast beef sandwich to go with our soup.

In our family, if you’re having roast beef, you’d better bring the horseradish sauce. It’s a staple with our Christmas rib roast dinner. It’s incredibly easy to make, and can do double duty as a quick crudité dip if need be (if you’re going there, I recommend stirring in a teaspoon of onion powder, too).

1 cup (8 ounces) sour cream (you can use low or nonfat if you like; works just as well).

2 tablespoons (1 ounce) prepared horseradish

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon ground pepper

Put it in a bowl, stir it up, you’re done. The flavor improves as it sits, so budget an hour for it to hang out in the fridge before you use it.

Now for sandwich majesty: Rieska, spread, tomatoes, arugula, roast beast, voilà!

So what’s for supper?

A bowl of Pottage, some Rieska for cleaning the bowl, or to pair with some roast or corned beef and some Horseradish Sauce for a hearty sandwich. The Baking Sheet is happy to serve up this hearty winter meal. We hope you’ll join us, in reading, and baking, and anticipating great new recipes to bake (that you can’t find anywhere else) all year long.

From kjp684 on our community site: “The newsletters are filled with recipes and pictures. The authors and editors provide tips about experience with creating the recipe, and other things they tried. I gave this as a gift to my husband, and ended up renewing with a 2-year subscription, he liked it so well. Highly recommend this, but once you subscribe, you’ll be hooked, and will want to get a multi-year subscription.”

Susan Reid

Chef Susan Reid grew up in New Jersey, graduated from Bates College and the Culinary Institute of America, and is presently the Food Editor of Sift magazine. She does demos, appearances, and answers food (and baking) questions from all quarters.


  1. Margy

    The Biblical book of Genesis tells the story of Esau selling his birthright to Jacob for a bowl of food, (probably lentil stew),that is called pottage in some translations. Just shows how long some version of the recipe has been around!

    Isn’t it fascinating, that we can time travel via food this way? Thanks, Margy, for pointing that out! Susan

  2. vtmommy

    I got a subscription to The Baking Sheet for Christmas. I love it! The article this month about the different sweeteners and fats and flours is excellent! I’m always hesitant to modify recipes because I don’t exactly what the ingredients do, but now I’m feeling braver and ready to experiment. Thanks!

    Oh boy, music to my eyes! I’m so glad you’re enjoying The Baking Sheet. I get a lot of feedback from readers, and the conversation we have back and forth is one of the best things about shepherding our little publication. Susan

  3. milkwithknives

    Oh, my gosh! That Rieska looks incredible! I was just thinking about what kind of bread I ought to make this weekend and, ta da! Rieska it is. I absolutely LOVE it when you guys throw out obscure things like this I’ve never heard of before, it really satisfies my nerdy interest in food history and origin stories. I’m now really looking forward to a piece of this bread toasted and spread with coarse mustard for breakfast. Thanks for all you do. -Erin

    Erin, I’m so glad our readers get the same kind of satisfaction from exploring our world from the perspective of the plate as I do! Have a great time with it. Susan

  4. Kim

    I’ve never heard of Pottage, but it sure sounds interesting with all of those vegetables in it! I’m always looking for recipes that are easy to freeze so I can have leftovers for weeks & months to come. This one looks like it will fit the bill!

    Kim, it’s also one of those great foods that gets better every time you reheat it. Susan

  5. AmericanGirlinQuebec

    Up here in Quebec you see the word pottage quite a lot. It appears on almost every “table d’hote” or price fixed menu as the reference to soup. Usually it is a creamier soup, either due to added cream or because once cooked the soup has been pureed. In fact my husband (he’s French Canadian so this comes naturally to him) made a pottage out of all sorts of left over roasted veggies we had in the fridge one night. He just added them to a vegetable broth, warmed it all up with some spices, then pureed it in the blender. Super yummy! I’ll have to give your version of a pottage a try and see how it compares! 🙂

    Très bien, bon chance, et bon appetit! —Susan

  6. Tonia

    Great minds think alike — made a big pot of vegetable beef soup and rustic (leave the skins on!) potato bread — soup & bread is just the thing this time of year! Maybe next weekend I’ll try the pottage and rieska! Thanks for the great ideas 🙂

    Thanks for your enthusiastic post. Happy Baking! Irene @ KAF

  7. cindy

    Do you ship The Baking Sheet to Europe? How much is the postage (it says FREE shipping. I think is only meant for USA?)


    Our apologies to our international readers – due to the high cost of international mail, there IS a difference in the price of The Baking Sheet outside the U.S. As of this date, prices are as follows: Canada – 1 year = $30.95, 2 years = $57.95, 3 years = $80.95. All other foreign subscriptions – 1 year = $38.45, 2 years = $72.95, 3 years = $103.45. We sincerely wish “Happy Baking” to all our customer/bakers – no matter their location around the world! Irene @ KAF

  8. milkwithknives

    Okay, I made the Rieska bread yesterday and it is wonderful. My husb got home just as I got it out of the oven and could barely wait for it to cool, it smelled so good. Oaty and slightly sweet flavor is very pleasant, and the texture is so soft. It’s so easy and lightning fast to make, too, that I’ve already decided I’m making it to bring on Friday morning for an arbitration instead of the usual muffins or coffee cake. Thanks so much, this is a real winner.

  9. Ricardo Neves Gonzalez - Petrópolis, R.J. - BRAZIL

    Marvelous. I bake here a similar bread from Nordic countries they call there, Polar Bread. It’s AMAZINGLY similar to this nice Rieska. Polar Bread is a bread made with rye flour, unbleached all purpose flour,baking powder, heavy cream, instant yeast and anise seeds. Really AMAZING, healthy and tasty. Here I cut them with round cutter, as thick as some pizza doughs, sliced in half, drizzled with some olive oil inside, added lettuce, sliced tomatoes, some Tuna fillets with mayonnaise and sesame seeds sprinkled on top. Closed and then deliciously enjoyed!! Susan, give the Polar Bread recipe a try!
    Nice post!!

  10. lorrainesfav

    There is nothing more comforting than a bowl of hot soup with homemade bread on the side. This soup recipe is very inspirational and I can add in my choice of veggies to make it my own Pottage. The Rieska too looks very interesting and I will experiment with white whole wheat flour and some flaxmeal..maybe some honey instead of the sugar. How about the Rieska baked in a muffin pan instead of the 9X13 pan? Can it be baked at a lower temperature? Also…I use my food processor with the slicing disk to cut my vegetables when I make soup. This is so easy and takes just a few minutes for nice even slices. Thanks for these great recipes KA!
    The muffin pan would work fine and you will only need to adjust the time, not the temperature. ~Amy

  11. Margaret

    Any chance for a gluten-free version of this recipe?

    Hi Margaret,
    Ah, if wishes were horses, eh? We’d love to be able to create GF versions of every recipe we offer, but time and manpower simply don’t allow for it. Hopefully, you will find our gluten free recipes online helpful in converting others for your use. ~ MaryJane

  12. Elizabeth Quigley

    I am enjoying my Baking Sheet. I have a many recipes flagged to cook. I have a question about the Pottage Recipe. My husband can’t have oatmeal or whole grains. What can I use in place of it.
    Thank you,

    In place of oatmeal, consider barley or rice. Happy Baking! Irene @ KAF

  13. dogmom53

    After the first time I made Rieska, I said to myself, okay, that was really good, I’m such a bread freak, but I ate the whole pan myself over a few days, pinching off a bite every time I walked by it, so I decided that except for special occasions or to impress someone with something different, I would not make this any more. Yeah, right. So I now have made it 4 times! It is so good that my resolve just goes out the door when I have a craving for it, and that happens all too often! I make it with dark rye flour and your white whole wheat, and it is just wonderful. Thanks a lot, you guys!

  14. quinn

    I can’t wait to try the bread recipe…maybe today! But I also want to thank you for the horseradish sauce recipe. I LOVE horseradish, and had no idea it would be so easy to make a sauce. Do you know how long it will keep in the fridge? Thank you!!
    This should keep for 7-10 days in the refrigerator. ~Amy

  15. Mary @ Fit and Fed

    Just made with with the recipe in the KAF Whole Grain Baking Book. It’s the same as printed here, except doubled– with one exception. Both this post and the book call for 1 cup of white flour. So perhaps that was meant to be 1/2 cup in the blog? At any rate, it turned out really well from the book– crispy outside, soft, moist inside, lots of oat and rye flavor. And so quick. Makes a very worthy alternative to cornbread for the table. One thing I’ll do differently next time is use parchment paper as you suggest. I usually do, but for some reason I unthinkingly followed the directions to lightly grease the sheet, and it stuck some.

  16. Jerryteacup

    Greetings from Finland! I just read a short story about New England and Rieska, so I had to find out if the connection exists! It looks like you handle Rieska differently to what I’m used to seeing. For you it’s a thick bread – and out here it’s usually a very thin one. I’m not that familiar with our culinary curiosities so I’m by no means saying what you’re showing here is not Rieska. Maybe there’s a variety I don’t know of. Mostly, I’m fascinated to find the connection exists!

    1. Susan Reid, post author

      Finland is so amazing. When I make it it’s about an inch tall (forgive me, 2.5cm). My reference for most things Finnish is my husband’s family, who came to Massachusetts from Pieksammaki in the 1910’s.

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