Well, it’s the season for it. Heathrow has been fog-bound and we have moved the garden pot-plants nearer the house. The central heating is now on full-time and the hot-water bottles have been brought out of mothballs. It’s nearly winter.
That came around quick! We are musing on hearty meals and hot comfort foods; saving a few bob seems like a good idea. We don’t want to spend ages in the kitchen even if it is the warmest spot in the house, so home-made soup will be high on the list of craved lunches or suppers.
200 Soups is an American book and so offers a few things that we might not have seen between the covers of cookbooks hailing from these shores. Chowder of various hues has long been popular in the US. There are several versions and each has its followers who would not dream of being seen with a bowl of the competition. The two clam chowders are the ones that seem to excite the most partisan of passions. Manhattan Clam Chowder will be the one familiar to those of us who have visited that classy peninsula. This is a tomato-based recipe, in contrast to the New England Clam Chowder which is rich and creamy and my personal favourite. This book suggests cans of clams, a common ingredient in the US, but please use fresh clams in the UK.
I have noticed that the book takes advantage of a few more convenience foods than many UK cookbooks. I don’t mention that as a criticism, and it will indeed be a departure welcomed by those strapped for time …and by me. Nothing wrong with a stock cube as long as it’s a good quality one. There are lots of potato soups here and those vegetables, although economic, will need a good can/cube/plastic bottle of flavourful stock to assist their natural starchy blandness.
My favourite recipe is that for Curry Soup. This has vibrant flavours of Indian spices. Use a pressure cooker for the lentils and that will cut down on cooking time. This is a great make-ahead soup and this recipe serves 6, so enough to last for a couple of meals for a small family. Delicious with just some crusty bread.
200 Soups is hard-cover and ring-bound for practical flat-on-the-counter reading, and it offers some American classics to enjoy till the weather takes a turn for the better.
Author: Madge Baird
Published by: Gibbs Smith
Cookbook review by Chrissie Walker © 2018