I always have such high hopes for cookbooks. I love to cook and try things out. But I’m not a big experimenter. I realize that some people spend years at school learning to cook while I just started cooking in earnest about two years ago. So while there are some things I know I can do, I usually stick close to a recipe. I love Food52’s recipes, and I will scavenge AllRecipes.com for just the right process, but somehow cookbooks never do it for me. And for a book lover, this is somewhat problematic.
Cookbooks tend to be overly ambitious as to what I can accomplish or they tend to be written for simpletons. I haven’t invested $10,000 in kitchen gadgets, so I rarely have everything needed for a fancy recipe (and there’s always the chance that none of my small town grocery stores will have their rare ingredients). But a too-low-of-a-level book makes me feel like they’re giving me ingredients for a ham sandwich or nachos. I’m not that helpless. Usually.
That’s why I was so pleasantly surprised by Maggie Stuckey’s forthcoming cookbook Soup Night: Recipes for Creating Community Around a Pot of Soup. Stuckey provides around 100 different soup recipes, ranging from classics to new favorites. However, because anybody can get recipes off the Internet these days, what makes this book special is that it offers a window into Stuckey’s life. She started a local soup night in order to meet her neighbors and encourage community in her area. Her stories (and those of the people that she compiles) are charming, and they made me wish that my local neighborhood was more united. I mean, I honestly don’t even know their names.
Unlike traditional cookbooks that are formatted around protein items or main ingredients, this cookbook is organized according to season. That way, you can cook soups based off of seasonal vegetables or experience tastes you associate with certain seasons (cold summer soups, light spring mixes, etc.). A few breads and deserts are thrown in at the end of section for a little something extra on top of all the soup.
The book is gorgeous to look at. The designer’s color palette subtly shifts for each season, subtly morphing the book through the passage of the year. Recipes are well-laid out with ingredients sharing equal space with process so that you’ve got everything on one page or spread. No flipping back and forth with flour-covered hands required.
The proof is really in the tasting on a cookbook. Last weekend, we made Tortilla Soup and a Chipotle Sweet Potato Soup. I loved the Tortilla Soup and Dale was all over the Chipotle. I mean, they were both good, we just had different preferences. And this was just the first two that we’ve tried–there’s a whole book of awesome left over (not to mention a large amount of soup). Oh, and at $15 for two meals and tons of leftovers, it doesn’t get more economical.
I’m already thinking of who I want to buy and gift this book to. And that is truly a vote of confidence.
JMF Rating: 8/10
‘Til next time,
Note: This book was received from NetGalley in return for an honest review.