Save the Sourdough!

Making sourdough at home requires a lot of trial and error. There are so many factors that lend to bread making alone, but adding in that crucial sour flavor component is a project unto its own. I’m no expert on sourdough yet, but I’m working on it. I had two different starters in my fridge, both of which I ordered here. San Francisco is the classic to which I could base my recipe against because it’s the most common, and Bahrain, which is said to be the most sour of them all. Go big or go home, right?

So I’ve been experimenting with different recipes and methods and obviously with starters. My trainer’s wife, Theresa, even gave me 2 cups of hers to try, which has East coast water and air. But I haven’t found the sour I’m looking for, so no bread recipe to share yet. However, I will share this cioppino recipe, which pairs perfectly with all of this bread I have! Sourdough and this soup are like peanut butter and jelly, a San Fran match made in heaven.


¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 med onion, finely chopped
1 lrg bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1/2 pkg cremini mushrooms, quartered (not traditional, but a nice addition)
8 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
3 T vodka
1 bay leaves
1 tbsp dried oregano
1 cup wine (I’ve seen recipes call for either white or red)
2 cups water or stock
1 cup clam juice
1 can crushed tomatoes (16 oz)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 lb mild white flaky fish, cut into 2 to 3-inch pieces
1/2 lb mussels, cleaned and beards removed
4 oz medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
12-16 littleneck clams
1 bunch basil and parsley, chopped
Sugar or milk, to taste (in case the tomatoes are too acidic)


Heat oil in large pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion and bell pepper and cook until beginning to soften, about 3 minutes, Then add mushrooms and garlic and cook until they soften. Deglaze the bottom of the pot with the vodka. Next up, place in the bay leaf, oregano, wine, water, clam juice, and tomatoes. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium, and simmer for 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Add the fish, mussels, shrimp and clams, in that order. Let cook, covered and undisturbed, until the clams and mussels have opened and the shrimp and fish are cooked through, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove the lid and add basil and parsley. Taste the soup. If it's too acidic, add enough sugar or milk to taste. Spoon into bowls and serve with sourdough and a glass of wine. We made cheesy garlic sourdough to accompany and had 10 year old Clos du Val Cabernet Sauvignon, what could be better than that?

Alright, so with the recipe out of the way, it’s officially story time. Yay! When Hurricane Sandy was slated to hit down, I happened to be visiting with my parents for the weekend, so I just stayed when the rains came. It turned out that my apartment lost power and my neighborhood was subject to looting and gasoline rationing, so it was good thing I had a few extra outfits with me! When the boy was safely able to fly back east from his business trip, a few days after the storm had passed, he stopped at our apartment and piled all of the freezer foods that were still frozen into a cooler and came to cozy up with me and spend some time with my parents. The best part, aside from the fact that we were reunited - he saved the sourdough! I couldn’t believe he thought to check to see if they were still alive! I was touched, and a little more in love to say the least. Unfortunately, the San Fran starter died, but the Bahrain was as bubbly as ever! 

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