Bread Soup: An Old Icelandic Recipe

By Bill Holm Bill Holm
Start with the square heavy loaf
steamed a whole day in a hot spring
until the coarse rye, sugar, yeast
grow dense as a black hole of bread.
Let it age and dry a little,
then soak the old loaf for a day
in warm water flavored
with raisins and lemon slices.
Boil it until it is thick as molasses.
Pour it in a flat white bowl.
Ladle a good dollop of whipped cream
to melt in its brown belly.
This soup is alive as any animal,
and the yeast and cream and rye
will sing inside you after eating
for a long time.

Reprinted from “Playing the Black Piano,” Milkweed Editions, 2004, by permission of the author. Copyright © 2004 by Bill Holm.

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Poet Bill Holm

POET’S REGION U.S., Midwestern

Subjects Activities, Eating & Drinking

Poetic Terms Free Verse


Poet and essayist Bill Holm is the author of Playing the Black Piano (Milkweed Editions, 2004). His poetry has been published in former U.S. Poet Laureate Ted Kooser's column, "American Life in Poetry." He lives in Minnesota.

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Poems by Bill Holm

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Activities, Eating & Drinking

POET’S REGION U.S., Midwestern

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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