Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The New Book of Soups

First off, I must say that I love every book I've seen that's put out by The Culinary Institute of America (The other CIA) and own a few of them myself. You can read about each of those....The Culinary Institute of America Cookbook which is a fantastic primer; The Flavors of Asia so good, my daughter has "borrowed" it; A Tavola! for a great taste of Italy; and Bistros & Brasseries for French cafe food to life right in your own home.

All that to say how excited I was when I got my review copy of The New Book of Soups, especially because this time of year I'm addicted to body and soul warming soups. Not to mention that I've been suffering with a bad head cold and want nothing better than a healthy, simple to prepare cure...with things I happen to have on hand, like squash and the last of my carrots, celery, onion and an orange. So before I even begin to talk about the book...I flipped to find this glorious looking Butternut & Acorn Squash Soup....well I didn't have butternut squash, but I did have lots of another kind of winter squash (not sure what exactly) and I somehow felt the need to squeeze some of the orange juice after zesting my last orange....and came up with
It was perfect. And although I'm all set for my next venture...Black Bean & Butternut Squash Soup, it's only half done...the black bean soup part. The rest will have to wait a day or two until I venture out. I can't wait to see how the savory black bean soup with cumin, chipotle chili and oregano combine with the sweet butternut squash with cinnamon, honey and allspice. You make the soups separately and then ladle equal amounts of each, side by side in a bowl and use a toothpick to swirl them together. Doesn't that sound perfectly awesome?!

I am jumping ahead of myself a bit though. As in every CIA book, the first chapter is dedicated to providing all the basics for making the perfect soup...whatever that might look like to you, from clear to thick to pureed...starting with ingredients - main flavor, liquid base, and supporting flavors and seasonings; the equipment; options for finishing soups and some amazing time saving tips. It's perfect not only for the beginner, but for long time cooks who can always do with a little more insights.

There's even a table that shows the ingredient from fruit to seafood to herbs, dry goods and cheeses and more, along with the amount and what that's equal to...

Example: an apple...don't you find it frustrating when a recipe just says the number of apples? Some are bigger than others, denser than others, so what does ONE really mean? Well, CIA says 1 lb equals 3-4 medium apples or 3 cups sliced.

The second section is all about broths..the liquid base for every soup and there are two pages at the beginning that guide you through the basics. Then there are the four classic broths - chicken, beef, fish and vegetable followed by a huge selection of broth with veggies, fish, meat, chicken...pasta... the list is impressive.

Now my Honey is not really a broth fan. In fact, he thinks he doesn't like soup, but place in front of him a hearty soup with lots of ingredients to chew - like Cioppino or Udon Noodle Pot, Minestra Mariatta...OR a heavenly stew (there are so many great choices, I hardly know where to begin) like Crawfish Etouffe, Lamb Khorma, Catalan Beef Stew and the classic Cassoulet... OR some creamy soup, like my personal favorite - Cream of Mushroom that sounds awesome...OR pureed soups, my Honey's all time favorite type and he did give a two thumbs up to the Squash Soup.

The New Book of Soups is definitely a keeper!

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