French panade is a mix between a thick bread soup and a savoury bread pudding.
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10 to 12 thick slices day-old crusty white bread, cubed
8 thick slices bacon, cut into thin strips
2 tablespoons butter
4 onions, sliced thinly
6 garlic cloves, minced
150ml white wine
500g kale, cut into thin strips
800g peeled winter squash such as butternut squash, diced
600g Gruyere, coarsely grated
4 to 5 fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
2L chicken stock, heated
Method Prep:30min › Cook:3hr › Ready in:3hr30min
If the bread is still fresh and soft, cut it into cubes and place it in the oven at the lowest temperature until dry and hard.
Fry the bacon with 1 tablespoon butter in a large frying pan at medium temperature until the fat has been drawn out and the bacon is crisp. Remove from the pan and set aside. Add the onions to the pan and fry slowly at low temperature until they have a deep brown colour, about 20 to 30 minutes, stirring once every so often. Add the garlic and fry until fragrant and translucent, about 1 to 2 minutes. Add the wine and cook until slightly reduced. Stir well, and return the bacon to the pan. Season lightly with salt and pepper and set the pan aside.
Cook the kale in a large pan with 1 tablespoon butter until wilted. Add salt, mix, and remove from the pan.
In a large ovenproof pot or a deep baking dish place a few tablespoons of the onion mixture. Cover with bread cubes, then add a layer of kale, followed by squash, cheese and a sprinkling of thyme. Continue layering in that order until all the ingredients have been used up. End with a layer of cheese.
Pour the hot stock on top, there should be enough lquid so that is reaches slightly below the last layer. If there is not enough broth, add hot water.
Preheat the oven to 170 C / Gas 3. Cover the pot with a lid, or, of using a baking dish, cover it tightly with foil, and place it in the centre rack of your oven. To catch any drips, place a baking tin on the lower rack. Cook in the preheated oven for 1 hour.
Increase the oven temperature to 190 C / Gas 5. Remove the lid and cook until the top is browned, 20 to 30 minutes more. Serve in soup bowls with a green salad on the side.