Soup is one of the most basic ways to serve food known to man. Whether a cold bowl of fruit soup as a summer dessert, or a hearty beef stew to take the chill out of your bones, soup fills a very important need in the culinary world.
So does Aliza Green’s latest cookbook, The Soupmaker’s Kitchen: How to save your scraps, prepare a stock, and craft the perfect pot of soup. It is simply one of most well put-together cookbooks out there today.
Green earned that compliment. Most cookbooks with unusual or gourmet recipes focus on niche markets, leaving the novice cook frustrated, and there are a million beginner cookbooks that focus on basic skills and basic recipes. Green’s book is neither; she offers gourmet recipes combined with culinary skills that make this a must-have for every kitchen library, not just the soup-foodie. Her tips for making stock would make a 1940’s homemaker proud, and are equally valuable for the new Millenial cook.
The book’s recipes span multiple tastes, including vegan, carnivore, and gluten-free (although the latter is not highlighted in the listings). More fabulous is the diversity The Soupmaker’s Kitchen embodies, covering almost every continent with soups like Caribbean Callalou soup with crabmeat and coconut, Tom Kha Gai, and Wild Salmon Chowder. Senegal, Italy, Hungary, Greece, and Vietnam are a few of the countries showcased, and Asia is very well represented, too. Green even manages to sneak in some food history as well; if you ever wanted to know the difference between a yam, sweet potato and sweetpotato, she’s got the answer. For those looking to really impress dinner guests, the French Soupe de Potiron – soup made, and served, in a pumpkin – is a centerpiece dish just begging to be ladled for the holidays.
Part of the appeal of food is the visuals; we eat with our eyes first, and Green’s photographer, Steve Legato, captures the deliciousness of her soups with eye-popping and stomach-growling talent. The photography in The Soupmaker’s Kitchen is concise in showing what ingredients are used, how they are put together, and also visually clarify the kitchen skills Green describes. Altogether, the combination of Green’s recipes and Legato’s photography make for a potent soup primer that neither snubs its nose at the beginner, nor bores the seasoned foodie. The Soupmaker’s Kitchen is a fine addition to the kitchen shelf…when you aren’t drooling and elbow deep in its pages.
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