Souped-up recipes from around U.S.



Book of Soups

The Culinary Institute of America

Edited by Mary D. Donovan

Lebhar-Friedman / 2005 / $17.95

With the subtitle "more than 100 new recipes from the world's premier culinary college," you'd expect amazing results stemming from amazing recipes, wouldn't you?

It could just be that the Minnesota Wild Rice Soup I chose to conjure up for myself on a chilly fall evening was the lemon of the bunch. Or maybe it just needed some lemon. Then again, maybe I was the lemon.

With the consistency of warm butter and a lack of distinguishable taste of some sort, this soup needed more than just a pinch of salt to bring out the flavor. What can I say? The picture looked oh so enticing.

In any case, the cookbook is packed with soup recipes from around the nation, ranging from hearty, cream and pureed soups to bisques, chowders and cold soups. Just about every recipe includes its own tempting illustration and tips on how to make the mixture mouthwatering.

The first two chapters highlight the basics of soup-making and broth creation. Detailed summaries are provided for specifics, including ingredient requirements, equipment needed, advice on adjusting flavoring and seasoning, and methods of reheating to preserve as much flavor as possible.

Some of the dishes call for hard-to-find ingredients such as Vietnamese fish sauce, wakame seaweed, dried cloud ears and tiger-lily buds. Just show me where to find a cloud ear and I'll show you how to make one heck of a hot-and-sour soup, or so says the culinary institute.

The importance of producing the perfect broth is emphasized in the fact that broth gets its own chapter. Bottom line about broths: You get what you put in. Commercially prepared broths and soup bases are OK to use in some cases, but nothing beats the old-fashioned, do-it-yourself method.

The Cream of Tomato Soup is one recipe to try that won't have you trekking through the West Indies or digging holes to China. But be sure to take the time to simmer the soup correctly and use all required ingredients. The result is sure to reveal your efforts.

The Soup Peddler's Slow & Difficult Soups

Recipes and Reveries

David Ansel

Ten Speed Press / 2005 / $16.95

At least the title puts it all out in the open for the reader. These soups are indeed slow-in-the-making, but as the author's introduction points out, the recipes themselves are not difficult.

Attempting to veer off the path of our quick and easy culture, Baltimore native David Ansel enforces the belief that the fast-food fad is detrimental to society. "We lose knowledge of our foodways [and] risk a devolution of the human spirit," he says.

Join Ansel on his unconventional journeys, via bicycle and bowl, as he delivers soups to residents of Austin, Texas. Ansel's devotion to savoring the flavor produces the feel of a somewhat religious experience for his reader as opposed to simply offering recipes and how-tos.

Each of the 35 recipes in this book comes with a tale about how that soup came to be. Illustrated sketches throughout enhance the book's back-to-basics character and slow-and-steady methodology.

Cream of Tomato Soup

Serves 8

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 carrots, diced (about 2/3 cup)

2 celery stalks, diced (about 1 cup)

1 small onion, diced (about 3/4 cup)

1 garlic clove, minced (about 1/2 teaspoon)

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1 quart chicken broth, plus more as needed

2 1/3 cups drained, canned plum tomatoes, chopped

2 cups tomato puree

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste

2 parsley stems

1/2 bay leaf

1 cup light cream, hot

salt, to taste

Heat the oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add the carrots, celery, onion and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 6-8 minutes. Add the flour and blend well. Continue to cook, stirring frequently, 3-4 minutes. Add the broth and blend well. Add the chopped tomatoes, tomato puree and pepper. Bring to a simmer and cook, 30 minutes. Add the parsley stems and bay leaf and continue to simmer, 30 minutes.

Pass the soup through a strainer, pressing hard on the solids to recover as much liquid as possible. Blend the hot cream into the strained soup. Adjust the consistency with more broth, if necessary. Season with salt and more pepper, if desired. Serve in heated bowls.

Per serving: 175 calories; 5 grams protein; 12 grams fat; 5 grams saturated fat; 13 grams carbohydrate; 1 gram fiber; 20 milligrams cholesterol; 650 milligrams sodium

From "Book of Soups"

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