It’s National Soup Month and what better time for soup than in the cold, snowy days of January. While I was preparing for a program on soup and soup making, I came across two great books that are worth taking a look at and, in my case, purchasing for my private cookbook collection.
The first is called The Dairy Hollow House Soup & Bread: a Country Inn Cookbook. Written by Crescent Dragonwagon (yes, really–more about her later), this is a great primer on stocks and soup basics and has a wonderful chapter on ‘The Soup’—an always tasty vegetable based soup that is easy and fast to make and has the potential for infinite variations. It also happens to be essentially low in calories and fat, so it can be used as the basis for a diet meal, if you so choose. It’s basically a ‘one from column a, one from column b’ type of recipe, making it flexible and variable (and easy–don’t forget, easy). The simplest version uses purchased stock and frozen vegetables, is ready in under an hour and tastes delicious. I love it.
What you pick up from this book is that soup is as much a state of mind as anything else and if you regard it in this fashion, it becomes much easier to be creative in your cooking. This is largely due to the attitude of the author, Ms. Dragonwagon, who is fascinating in herself. She has written a number of cookbooks and children’s books, run the Dairy Hollow House Inn, and is currently living in Vermont and conducting ‘Fearless Writing’ workshops. Read more about her and find out how she got her name by clicking on this link to her website.
The second book that fascinated me is entitled An Exaltation of Soups: the Soul-Satisfying Story of Soup, as Told in More than 100 Recipes. In addition to recipes, which are organized by rites of passage (to celebrate marriage), purpose (to chase a hangover), and holiday (Eastertide), there is also a section covering the origins and history of soup, proverbs and reflections on soup, and basic stocks and foundations. Sprinkled throughout are poems and short stories with soup as their theme. The recipes are great and the rest of the content will keep the interest of even the most attention impaired intellectual gadfly.
Reserve your copy by clicking on the book title and enjoy—with a cup of warm soup.