In her cookbook writing career, Betty now has eleven volumes focused it seems on soup and Sundays. She has written Sunday Casseroles, Sunday Roasts, and Sunday Soups. Now, in Soup Nights there is room for soup any day of the week, lunch or dinner, main course or side.
When it comes to soup, most of us open a can. The idea of actually cooking soup, from scratch, just is not automatic anymore. Part of that reason is that the basis for a great soup is a wonderful stock: chicken, beef, vegetable or seafood. Betty has recipes for them all along with suggestion that, if you are making stock, make plenty and freeze some for later use. Or, yes, you can buy stock and Betty suggests the best brands to employ there if you are short of time or your freezer supply has run low.
There are five soup chapters here, running the gamut from vegetable to seafood to bean orients, plus heartier fare like meaty chili and lighter soups for very warm or very cold days. On that cool side she does have a classic tomato gazpacho, but you might be tempted by the Melon and Cucumber one. There are also two chapters for pairing your soup with either a salad or a sandwich. And a closing chapter offers some rich desserts. After all, if you were so well behaved with that soup up front, then you deserve a Butterscotch Pot de Creme.
The diversity of the recipes and the unexpected combinations of ingredients are two reasons for you to consider this book. There is the Cauliflower Soup with Crispy Chorizo, Lime and Cilantro for example. That’s the soup pictured at the bottom of this post. The only thing I could imagine cauliflower and chorizo having in common is that initial letter “c.” You can see, though, that the recipe offers temptation.
On that Friday after Thanksgiving, when you have all that leftover meat but are a little undecided about what to with it, why not consider After Thanksgiving Turkey, Sweet Potato, and Bacon Chowder. That’s going to be rich enough to make you satisfied, but not too overwhelming a meal after Thursday’s weighty table.
Soup gives you satisfactions two ways. First, there is the soup itself with the ingredients in the very liquid. Think of vegetable soup replete with bits of chopped vegetable throughout the broth. Second, there are the toppings which can serve as a kind of “soup frosting” to both tempt and reward you. You see both of those techniques in Betty’s Chipotle Beef and Black Bean Chile Topped with Orange Sour Cream. Or her Extra Smooth Avocado Soup with Corn Relish. That avocado soup itself is extra smooth and extra easy: basically avocado, buttermilk and ice water blended until homogeneous and thick. The corn relish on top adds color, texture and the corn contrast that seems ideal with avocado.
It’s spring, it’s asparagus time, and Betty provides you with a perfect Italian concept: Brodo with Asparagus, Potato Gnocchi and Blue Cheese. That’s a rich base for a meal. Pair with one of her lovely salads, say Radicchio, Spinach and Grapefruit, and your meal will surely be memorable and satisfying. Particularly if you conclude with her Extra Easy Brown Butter Almond Cake or her Buttermilk Panna Cotta.
Sometimes you need to think out of box and even out of the can. Soup Nights is a charming way to begin.