Got any soup cookbook recs?
December 10, 2022 1:48 AM   Subscribe

As a Chanukkah gift for a couple I’m good friends with, I have acquired a set of cute soup crocks with handles so they can maximize their meal coziness. I would like to also give them a cookbook full of tried and tested soup recipes because they are not very good at improvisational cooking. Caveats: seafood, dairy and eggs are okay, no mammalian or avian meats. They also have two young kids so simpler recipes that freeze well, and things that are a little easier to eat so maybe not long noodles or spicy focused.

They are here in Seattle with me so have access to basically any ingredients, have and enjoy using an instantpot, and enjoy cuisines from all over the world. I want to have the book in my hands to wrap and gift somewhere around the 20th. It needs to be a physical book.

Please only suggest cookbooks you’ve successfully used, or by authors whose recipes you trust. My friends have been burnt time and time again by bad recipes, and I have a reputation as an incredible cook to uphold with them so they will trust a recipe I give them entirely. Don’t ruin my cred!

To reiterate: please recommend pescatarian or vegetarian soup-focused cookbooks to me so I can make my gift complete.
posted by Mizu to Food & Drink (16 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Congratulations, you are this week's winner of the EmpressCallipygos Moosewood Daily Special Recommendation!

This book is almost custom-made to answer your question - it is a cookbook put out by the Moosewood Restaurant, a pescatarian-vegetarian restaurant in Ithaca, NY. And it is nothing but soups and salads. There are recipes for every level - some easy throw-everything-in-a-pot things, and others that may be a bit more fiddly but possible to make shortcuts with (like, you can fold your own wontons for the wonton soup, or just shrug and get frozen wontons). There are main-dish soups, main-dish salads, simple veg soups, simple side salads, seafood salads, seafood soups, cream soups, and chilled soups, and a small collection of "extras" at the back consisting of things like simple breads and biscuits and salad dressings.

And they even encourage you to build entire meals from the book. The "Daily Special" in the name refers to a tradition at the restaurant - they usually feature two or three "soups of the day" and a couple of "salads of the day", and their lunch special is one cup of one of the soups and a small plate of one of the salads, you pick which one, with a roll on the side. In the cookbook, at the bottom of each recipe, they give you a shortlist of suggestions for other recipes it can pair with for a combo plate like this.

I have been using this cookbook for years, and recommending it in here for years. I have used it or batch-cooking sessions in the summer; making up a couple different batches of the salads and shoving them in my fridge, and then using them for bag lunches over the course of the week, or having a serving of them for dinner so I wouldn't have to cook. If I was hungrier I added a simple roast chicken leg or something. I have about ten go-to recipes (the Sichuan sesame noodles, a French pasta salad, a Tuscan bean soup, their biscuit recipe, and a bulgur salad with grapes and carrots are the top 5 probably), and I have made each of the 4 seasonal minestrones so much that I've started to feel comfortable improvising with the recipes.

This is 100% exactly what you are looking for.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:57 AM on December 10, 2022 [24 favorites]

There’s also a Moosewood soups only cookbook! It’s a nice format spiral bound hardcover that stands up on your counter like a little easel so it’s super easy to use while you are cooking. I own it, have made many of the recipes, and it’s one of the few cookbooks that survived my downsizing of clutter for a move.
posted by leastlikelycowgirl at 5:53 AM on December 10, 2022 [5 favorites]

This isn't exclusively vegetarian, but it does have a lot of vegetarian recipes in it that look good:

New England Soup Factory Cookbook

So far I've only made the minestrone recipe (which has sausage) and it is delicious (I've been making it in the fall/winter for years). I'm planning to make one of the veggie recipes this weekend.

And in other news I just ordered a copy of the Moosewood cookbook based on the recommendations here!
posted by DrumsIntheDeep at 7:33 AM on December 10, 2022

I was going to suggest Great Vegetarian Cooking Under Pressure (which I personally love - FYI all the recipes are vegan), but frankly, the Moosewood cookbooks suggested look way better for your purposes since they're focused on soup. The main complaint I see in reviews of GVCUP is that it doesn't have Instant Pot directions - it was written before they existed. But I never had a problem adjusting recipes myself.

Also, I'm dying to see these soup crocks if you can show them to us.

(I'm vegan, and I find that "has a lot of vegetarian/vegan recipes" never works out for me. I'm sure it seems like a lot to an omnivore, but it my experience, it's a lot of sifting through recipes that don't work. I even gave away Deborah Madison's Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, which a lot of people love - she claims that if you're vegan, you can eat most of the recipes. I don't know how she defines "most," but it was too few for me to find it useful. Once I heard a cookbook author on a podcast - a vegan podcast even - claim that most of his recipes were vegan. When I looked at the actual cookbook, I'd say 80% had cheese. Cheese can really contribute to flavor, so just leaving it out may or may not work. Fortunately, I got that one from the library. Anyway, your friends should be able to cook everything in a Moosewood book, and I love your thoughtful gift idea.)
posted by FencingGal at 7:53 AM on December 10, 2022

Love Soup by Anna Thomas. Vegetarian, trusted author. Sorry no link--on phone.
posted by purplesludge at 5:17 PM on December 10, 2022 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I can recommend Soup Club by Caroline Wright. The recipes are hella good and either vegetarian or vegan. Animal products come from optional broth or garnish options, not from the actual recipes.
posted by blnkfrnk at 6:02 PM on December 10, 2022

Response by poster: I regret editing my question because originally I had a whole paragraph about “please don’t recommend the moosewood cookbook to me.” It could have saved you so much comment writing time, Empress! But then I took it out because I figured it would make the question too long and cause people to skim. I do appreciate that there is a soups-only version I didn’t know about, I’ll look into that.

If anyone has some smaller more niche cookbooks that would be great to learn about. I think when I have in the past given cookbook recs to these friends and they look at something with like 200 recipes, they get overwhelmed and end up not being able to choose. (Yes including Moosewood.) Something with only a few dozen or less would probably be a lot more approachable and inspiring for them.

The soup bowls I got appear to be from these folks, I picked them up at the bougie kitchen and dining housewares part of my local fancy grocery store. I got the caramel ones for my friends but now I see they come in other colors too and I might get some for myself.
posted by Mizu at 11:26 PM on December 10, 2022

Twelve Months of Monastery Soups. Mostly, but not strictly, vegetarian, though everything can be easily modified.
posted by CheeseLouise at 11:42 PM on December 10, 2022

When I read your question, I immediately thought of the Empress and Moosewood, so I didn't comment, but I did think wether any of my favorite cookbook writers had made soup books, and searched a bit. Which led to the algorithm giving me this.

It seems you can get a free PDF, so you can see if it works for you before buying the book. You can also get a kindle version. To me, the recipe you can see on the amazon page looks legit.

Your gift idea is great. Normally, I'm not a fan of thematic cookbooks, which is why I can't make a personal recommendation. But I did think of an alternative to buying a book, which requires a bit of time, but could work for you. I was looking for recipes by Ottolenghi and Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall, and there are plenty out there, just not a themed book. I'm thinking you could gather a bunch of great recipes into a pdf, and then get it printed and bound. I think if you did it today, you could have the book before the 20th. It could even be your own recipes. You just assemble the recipes in a word document, convert that to PDF, and send it to a company that makes individual books. Obviously it has to be near you, so I can't recommend one. It probably wouldn't look perfectly designed, but it would be super personal and thoughtful.
posted by mumimor at 3:52 AM on December 11, 2022

LOL - no worries about the Moosewood not being your thing if you've already vetted it.

I can also weigh in on the Twelve Months of Monastery Soups suggested above - I had that for a while myself - and that wouldn't be a bad option either (if you don't think it's too weird to give a book by a Christian monk as a Hannukkah gift). The one caveat I have about it, though, is that I found that the soups in question were a bit too thin for my taste, but I easily fixed that by just reducing the amount of water or broth by about a third in each recipe. The good thing about it is that it had a focus on using seasonal vegetables, and that's always a good idea. Also the recipes are indeed pretty simple.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:19 AM on December 11, 2022 [1 favorite]

I also thought of the Twelve Months of Monastery Soups! The recipes I tried are indeed simple and a little on the, uh, monkish side rather than gluttony. I remember the broccoli soup as the quintessential basic recipe in a good way. While there are 175 recipes, the organization by month makes the choices more reasonable and extends the gift through the year.
posted by RoadScholar at 3:34 PM on December 11, 2022

I have and love this one by the great Arthur Schwartz, Soup Suppers. Everything I've ever cooked from this has been amazingly delicious.
posted by Miko at 6:57 PM on December 12, 2022

Thirding the monastery soup book. It's delightfully simple and peaceful, as well as having a seasonal flow.
posted by donnagirl at 6:52 PM on December 13, 2022

Response by poster: Yeah, folks, I do not feel comfy giving a book written by and for a Christian audience as a specifically Jewish holiday gift. I have Twelve Months of Monastery Soups and it’s good, and I could even regift it because by this point I’ve tweaked all the recipes I’d like to remake from it, but like, come on. Jews are all over the world so any cuisine would work, but one place we aren’t generally found is an order of Benedictine monks. Sorry for the snark, but I’ve had to endure enough well meaning Jesusy Christmas stuff in my life. I’m not looking for a Jewish soup cookbook, but something that isn’t full of Christian philosophy can’t be too much to ask for.
posted by Mizu at 7:37 PM on December 13, 2022

I did try to gently push back on the Monestary soups, but I apologize for not being a bit more forceful about that.

Maybe let's back up a bit - you seemed interested in the shorter Moosewood book. In addition to the soup focus, are you also looking for a book that's on the shorter side?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:54 AM on December 14, 2022

Response by poster: I went to the Book Larder up in Fremont and they handed me Soup Club, which is not only written by a local Seattle person but full of lovely paintings of soup. Thank you blnkfrnk for the recommendation, it made the decision very quick and easy. (Of course I did not escape without three other cook books, but those are for me, not my friends.)
posted by Mizu at 10:25 PM on December 16, 2022

« Older Sigh, this doesn't suck   |   How To Use Stable Diffusion Models? Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments