Bowled Over

by | Mar 2023

Irish Bread Bowls

Photo: Spencer Olson

While St. Patrick’s Day might bring to mind shamrocks, leprechauns and everything green, don’t forget about Irish cooking, especially when it comes by way of a warm loaf of soda bread and a hearty stew. Why not combine the two recipes to create a bread bowl, where you get the best of both worlds?

Rosemary and shallots in the soda bread create a lot of flavor. If you are unfamiliar with soda bread, know that it’s classed as a quick bread, meaning it doesn’t use yeast but uses a chemical leavening agent, in this case, baking soda.

The stew is equally as delicious, full of fresh herbs and root vegetables, perfect to warm you up during the final days of winter and the inevitable last snowstorm.

With the bread bowl, the bread and stew work hand in hand to develop a collective flavor profile. The herbs work well together as the flavors build off each other to offer a unified taste experience.

Irish Bread Bowls

Contributed by Spencer Olson of


  • 5 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1.5 lbs. beef chuck, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 2 strips of bacon, diced
  • 1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
  • 2 Tbsp. flour
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 5 sprigs thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 sprig rosemary
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 6 cups beef stock
  • 2 Tbsp. tomato paste
  • 2 Tbsp. sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 3 carrots
  • 1 lbs. red potatoes, cut into 8ths
  • 1/2 lemon

In a large pot or Dutch oven, add olive oil, and warm over medium heat. As soon as the oil becomes shiny, add beef, bacon and Dijon mustard. Sprinkle the meat with flour, and season with salt. Brown each side of the beef. Use kitchen string to tie together the bay leaf, thyme and rosemary to make a bouquet garni. Add garlic, beef stock, tomato paste, sugar, bouquet garni and Worcestershire sauce. Bring to a simmer, and turn down the stove to low. Cover, and gently simmer for 50 minutes. As the stew cooks, in a small skillet over low to medium heat, melt the butter. Add carrots and onions, and simmer for 20 minutes. Once the stew is ready, add carrots, onions and potatoes. With the lid closed, simmer the stew for 40-50 minutes or until the potatoes are cooked through. Squeeze in the juice of half a lemon, and season with salt and pepper to taste. 

Soda Bread

  • 1 ½ cups wheat flour
  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 Tbsp. cold butter
  • 1 ¼ cups. buttermilk
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1 rosemary spring, finely chopped

Preheat the oven to 325 F. Grease a small round cake pan. In a large mixing bowl, mix flours, salt and baking soda. Rub the butter into the flour with your fingers to make a slight breadcrumb texture. Make a well in the center of the dough. In a separate bowl, beat buttermilk, egg, shallot and rosemary together. Pour this mixture into the well. With your hands, mix and knead the dough until just combined. Form the dough into a ball or round loaf. Bake for 60-70 minutes until the bread is a deep golden brown and a thermometer reads 200 F.  Let it sit in the pan for 15 minutes. Remove from the pan, and let it cool completely. 


Cut about a ½ inch off the top of the cooled soda bread. Remove bread, leaving a loaf shell. Leave about an inch of bread on all sides to prevent the stew from leaking. Pour in warm stew. Enjoy.

Spencer Olson, who is from the area, continues to expand his cooking repertoire. Taste more at


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