It’s a familiar scene: The scent of freshly baked bread overtakes you in the bakery, forcing you to stock up on one too many loaves, shoving baguettes under your arms and boules into your bag. Then you’re out to dinner, too rushed the next morning for breakfast, and by the time you return home, that once-fluffy bread is hard as a rock.

What to do? Milk Street food editor Matthew Card has the perfect fix.

Soak hunks of stale bread in a bowl of warm water for 5 to 10 minutes, he says. Once it’s soft, squeeze out as much moisture as possible.

Next, transfer the bread to a rimmed baking sheet, and break it apart into crouton-sized pieces. And don’t worry about uniformity when you’re, ahem, breaking bread, Card says.

Drizzle the pieces with a hefty dose of olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and bake in the oven at 375°F until browned and crisp, stirring every 10 minutes or so. Or, toast them in a nonstick skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally.

You’ve just restored stale bread into homemade croutons that will be golden over soups, salads and vegetable dishes (and tasty eaten by the handful).

Try them in soups like this Garlic and Cilantro Soup with Chickpeas (Açorda a Alentejana), or this Tuscan Soup with Bread, Beans and Greens (Ribollita).

Use them in salads like this one with Kale, Smoked Almonds and Picada Crumbs, or this Bread Salad with Kale, Beets and Blue Cheese.

Or pair them with this Gruyère and Chive Omelet, an adaptation of a recipe from Judy Rodger’s “The Zuni Cookbook.” Here, you’d use a mixture of melted butter, wine and mustard to season the bread.

You can’t go wrong with homemade croutons, and once you try them, you might end up letting your bread go stale on purpose.