My Favorite Soup Side: Loaded Toasts

I've talked a little in the past about my very favorite kind of fall dinner party: the soup party. And this week, my partner Sam and I started planning what is becoming an annual tradition. While we discussed chunky minestrone versus puréed butternut squash, the one question that has us inspired this year was: what to put on the toasts?

Last year for our fall soup party we made a Moroccan Carrot Soup and a nice chunky minestrone soup. We had some sliced bread, olives and cheese and a good time was had by all.

Later in the evening, Sam found himself in the kitchen slicing up leftover bread and pan-frying it, and we were making impromptu toasts in the kitchen with little bits of ricotta salata and spicy arugula pesto. This year we decided to make these spontaneous treats a permanent part of the menu.

Loaded toasts are essentially sliced baguette (or your favorite bread) that's toasted (or grilled or pan-fried) and topped with hearty vegetables, meats or cheeses. A favorite neighborhood bar here in Seattle, Essex, serves to-die-for Caulifower Toasts with a Spicy Aioli and there are a few nights lately where I've tucked into an order of them all on my own. If you're in town, you must try them.

But back at home, toasts are the perfect accompaniment to soups because they're a chance to create a dish that works with the flavors of the soup, and have something substantial for guests and friends to nosh on without going to too much trouble or fuss. Toasts can be haphazard; toasts can be messy, and for that reason I find them to be a very low-stress inclusion to a dinner party.

So what are we thinking about serving this year? I'm pondering a Smashed Chickpea and Harissa Toast, or maybe a Romesco with Hazelnuts and Red Pepper alongside a little Sheep Feta. Heck, we might just do both.

Do you have a favorite toast recipe or topping?

(Image: Megan Gordon)

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