Croutons are often a lovely addition to a soup. They give a texture and some carbohydrates if they are needed. If you serve them in a bowl then folks can add as many or as few as they prefer.
The trouble with croutons is making them. Usually, when you think of them it’s all a bit too late and you don’t have any suitable bread and myriad other reasons why you just won’t bother.
The freezer is your saviour here. I keep a bag of pre-cut croutons in the freezer for just such occasions. You can make them in about 15 minutes with almost no effort.
Whenever I have leftover homemade bread (either from the breadmaker or handmade) I cube it up into croutons. My preferred size is quite rustic, about 1.5cm (⅔”) square. I also trim the crusts as they can go quite crusty and hard. Leave them on if you prefer. Keep a poly bag in the freezer and add croutons every time there’s some leftover bread.
Croutons don’t keep well when cooked. They can dry right out and become overly firm and crunchy. You need to serve them within 10-15 minutes of being ready.
If they are larger sized I find they have a nice crunchy outside but a slightly softer centre which is the preferred texture as far as I am concerned. I also prefer white bread croutons as I think that is nicer than some of the denser types of bread.
- They defrost in 10 minutes in a warm kitchen, if you spread them around, while the oven is warming to about 180C.
- Put them in a big enough bowl and add a glug of some vegetable, or olive oil if it’s not too strong.
- Stir them around so they absorb the oil, adding more if you need it. When you cook them any excess will come out.
- Spread them on an oven tray and put them in the oven for 5-6 minutes till they look a golden brown but not too dark
- Put them in a serving bowl lined with some kitchen paper to absorb any excess