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I am a big fan of cooking soups - most of the work in in the perparatin, they are easy to make and ultimately versatile with the sheer scale of ingredients you can include. To my mind, you can almost never have enough recipes those, so I decided to buy this book whilst browsing in the cookery section of Waterstones one day. I have a couple other Hamlyn cookbooks and find them to be accessible and really useful.
For just £6.99 (full price) you get over 200 recipes. The book as a flexible cover and is glossy. The pages are quite glossy also and the book itself is flexible enough that itis easy to bend it back and cook from. The pages are also quite easy to wipe clean should they get splashed ( an occupational hazard with soups unfortunately.)
There isn't much in the way of an introduction, just a section called "finishing touches" which gives some basic information about how to use herbs and cream, information about breads, garnsihes and how to make croutons. Then there are some basic stock recipes and into the recipes good and proper.
Each recipe takes up a page wiht clear details on the side for preparation times, cooking times, how many it serves and a basic one word description eg herby, tasty, quick, hearty. The all have a brief description at the beginning of the recipe including any additional information you may need about the ingredients used.
The first recipe is based around "meat and poultry." Example recipes, and ones that I particularly recommend are - potato and bacon soup, goulash soup, spicy chilli bean soup (which includes sausage) and chicken and sweetcorn soup.
Then comes the fish and shellfish section eg "sweetcorn and prawn chowder," "prawn gumbo", "cod soup with rice and tomatoes," and "bouillabaise,". I have to admit to not having cooked from this section but have looked at the methods and they look relatively straightforward.
The next section, vegetables, is my my favourite because I like just about every idea in it - pumpkin and garlic soup, squash, sweet potato and ginger soup ( a real personal favourite), herbed tomato and lemon, roasted pepper and tomato, broccoli and cheese soup, and spinach and potato soup.
Then it is on to 'oriental', - noodle soup with chicken (an absolute find), hot and sour soup with seafood, even the more unusual - banana soup!
The final section is "chilled soups," so probably the most 'out there' of the lot. But it provides some really tasty recipes if you are in the mood for something a bit different eg various gazpachos or vichyssoise.
This is one of the most used cookbooks in my pretty extensive collections and an absolute steal at the price. It does not have photographs, but they are not really needed unless you really want to look at bowls of various coloured liquids!
The sheer breadth of the recipes available mean that there should be something for everyone. The vegetables section is by far the longest section and schould therefore make this book largely suitable for vegetarians, and meat stock indicated could be replaced by vegetable stock.
The recipes themselves are easy to follow and all of the ones that I have tried have been delicious. In fact I would highly recommend all hamlyn recipe books as providing value for money as well as accessible ingredients and hope to review more of them in the near future.