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Bread Soup: An Old Icelandic Recipe

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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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Bread Soup: An Old Icelandic Recipe

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  • Poet and essayist Bill Holm was born on a farm north of Minneota, Minnesota. He is the author of several poetry books, including The Chain Letter of the Soul: New and Selected Poems (2009), Playing the Black Piano (2004), and The Dead Get by with Everything (1995). His books of prose include The Music of Failure (2010), Windows of Brimnes: An American in Iceland (2008), The Heart Can Be Filled Anywhere on Earth (2001), and Eccentric Islands (2000).

    Holm lived in Minnesota, where he taught at Southwest State University, and spent summers in Iceland. He died in 2009.

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