100 Best Fresh Soups

“I live on good soup, not fine words.” Quote by 17th century French playwright Molieri on a restaurant menu in Center City, Phila.

Note: I happened to spot this book while shopping for yarn in Joann Fabrics. It was less than $5.00; it was December, definitely the beginning of “Soup Season,” so I grabbed it. I was pleasantly surprised, as you will see in the review below.

100 Best Fresh Soups is subtitled: The ultimate ingredients for delicious soups including 100 tasty recipes. I hope it delivers, because this is one of the best soup books I’ve stumbled upon. First, the photos are wonderful. Every recipe has a photo. Second, despite the fact that this is not a vegetarian cookbook, there are more than enough recipes for me to try, which I plan to do during February and March.

The Introduction emphasizes that soup is simple in many ways, whether you make a thick, pureed soup or a thinner, consommé, or somewhere in between with chunky ingredients. Many soups in the book are staples of a particular country or culture, such as Italian wedding soup, Jewish matzoh ball soup, or Japanese miso broth, which I love.

The Introduction also points out three important soup features: 1) soup is easy to make; 2) homemade soup is healthful; 3) soup is convenient. I agree, especially since I am now meeting with an Ayurvedic practitioner and eating soup in the morning and the evening, because it is easy to digest. The Introduction also includes information on equipment (nothing out of the ordinary that most of us have) and key ingredients, with the emphasis on FRESH! I like that. Most importantly, this section includes recipes for four kinds of soup stock: vegetable stock, fish stock, chicken stock and beef stock, so you are totally covered in the soup stock department.

100 Best Fresh Soups is divided into six chapters: Classic, Hearty, Spicy, Light & Refreshing, Luxury Soups, and Accompaniments. The latter is a short chapter on making croutons and breads to serve with the soups.

All in all, I love this book and plan to pick one out right now to make, so that I can pre-post it before I go on vacation and you will have it to try.  100 Best Fresh Soups is published by Love Food and is available online, or if you are lucky, at a store that is selling it on the cheap. (Thus, price will vary.)  It is a real bargain!

Here is the recipe I chose to make. It calls for red lentils, which are actually more orange colored, but the title seemed to fit the red theme for February, so here it is.

Winter Warmer Red Lentil Soup

I purposely put the soup bowl on a red placevmat to show you that the soup is more orange than red.

1 cup dried red lentils
1 red onion, diced
2  large carrots, sliced
1 celery stalk, sliced
1 parsnip, diced
1 garlic clove, crushed
5 cups vegetable stock
2 tsp.paprika
1 tsp. snipped fresh chives, to garnish

Put the lentils, onion, carrots, celery, parsnip, garlic, stock, and paprika into a large pan.  Bring to a boil and boil rapidly for 10 minutes. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes, or until the lentils and vegetables are tender.

Let the soup cool slightly, then purée in small batches in a food processor or blender.  Process until the mixture is smooth. Return the soup to the rinsed out pan and heat thoroughly. Season to taste with pepper.

Ladle the soup into warm bowls, garnish with snipped chives, and serve.

Serves 6

My Notes: I used a hand-held blender right in the pot, eliminating one of the steps. Also, I soaked the lentils while I cut the veggies to cut down on cooking time.


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