Book Review: The Soup and Bread Cookbook

Title: The Soup and Bread Cookbook
Author: Beatrice Ojakangas
Format: e-ARC from NetGalley
Genre: Cookbook
Did I like it: YES

This book arranges recipes by season (Sprint/Summer/Autumn/Winter) and also has a Basics section, with broths, stocks, and basic breads. It’s worth noting that the basics section is in the beginning, rather than the end like most other cookbooks I’ve worked with. The seasonal sections include soups and bread (obviously), but also recipes for simple sandwiches to use the bread and serve with the soup. Overall, I really enjoyed this book and it’s been added to my cookbook wish list, since I’m a big fan of soups for lunch.

Basics: She has some simple stock recipes, including two “Two for One” stock recipes which result in cooked meat (chicken or beef) in addition to the stock. This section also has a couple of very basic bread recipes with variations (e.g. the baguette becomes ciabatta). I really do appreciate having the section that I would need to refer back to for stock recipes in the front, rather than the back. While I understand why it’s at the back (you don’t want to waste the first few pages of a cookbook on the boring stuff), it does make it easier to refer back to the recipes as you’re cooking.

Spring: This section has some nice light soups that would take advantage of some of the early produce (Asparagus Soup) while also using up the last of the winter vegetables (Root Vegetable Soup). I was particularly excited to see the recipe for Fresh Nettle Soup. We get nettles from our spring CSA every year and I always struggle with figuring out what to do with them. (If you blanche them they don’t sting and are safe to eat, although they do still make my mouth tingle just a little.) I was really pleasantly surprised by the variety of soups and breads – most of the soup cookbooks I’ve seen recently rehash some of the same traditional recipes over and over again. This book has a great variety of vegetarian and meat soups, and the recipes represent a nice smattering of different cultures. (I’m particularly looking forward to trying the Polish Easter Soup with the Polish Sourdough Rye Bread.) Again, I was really impressed by the variety of breads, crackers, and biscuits that are included in this section – everything from Cardamom Almond Scones to Three Grain Almond Hardtack, and the aforementioned Polish Rye.

Summer: This section continues the variety of breads and soups present in the Spring chapter. I appreciate how simple some of the soups are, since nobody really wants to sit in the kitchen with a giant pot of soup. The Fresh Tomato and Cilantro Soup sounds great. There are also a number of chilled soups – including a Chilled Melon Soup and a Gazpacho. I’m really curious about the recipe for a yeast bread that uses Thai red curry paste – it could be AMAZING with the right soup. I could imagine the Spring and Summer sections of this book being extremely useful to someone who is taking part in their first CSA, since these soups call for smaller amounts of some unusual ingredients that always seem to make it into your box (like stinging nettles).

Autumn: Are you getting sick of me saying “Oh man, there’s such variety in this section! Delicious!” Well…yeah…this section has variety and deliciousness. Columbian Chicken and Potato Soup with Corn, Dutch Raisin Bread, Maine Corn Chowder, Brie and Apple Soup, and Butternut Squash Soup with Pecan Cream. The Green Cabbage and Hamburger Soup might sound gross, but it’s very similar to something I ate (and loved) in Russia. I went into this chapter assuming that there would be a lot of squash soups, but really, there were only a couple, which was another pleasant surprise.

Winter: The soups in this section are a bit heavier than the previous recipes – including quite a few dairy heavy soups calling for cream and cheese. (That makes them a bit of a no go for me – I’m lactose intolerant.) Additionally, this section has quite a few bean soups (Senate Bean Soup and German Lentil Soup, for example). This is great for those of us who try to eat locally/seasonally, but if you’re not fond of beans (like my husband), this section might not be as interesting. But they aren’t all bean based, so don’t give up hope!

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