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Soups for all seasons
I am a big fan of Women's Institute cookbooks - they are clear and contain recipes which are a lot more impressive and modern than you might think.
As a soup fan, I was drawn to this book which RRPs at £9.99 but can be found online at a few pounds cheaper.
The book itself is paperback with a glossy cover. The pages themselves are quite smooth and can be wiped clean quite easy from cooking splashes if you catch them early enough.
The first chapter is on how to make stocks such as vegetable, beef, meat and fish. Then we move onto the recipes good an proper which are categorised by season as a lot of the Women's Institute books are in order to encourage readers to use seasonal ingredients.
Each recipe has a brief one or two sentence introduction which either describes the dish or points you in the direction of accompaniments such as breads which are detailed elsewhere in the book. It is also indicated how many the quantities listed will serve, preparation time (split into physical preparation time and also how long it actually takes to cook), as well as if the soup can be frozen - this is very useful, especially if cooking in great quantities or if you want to have homecooked standbys in your freezer. Some of the recipes have nicely shot accompanying photographs also, but for the soups themselves this isn't necessarily essential. Each section has a few recipes towards the end for accompaniments such as different types of breads.
Herberts starts with spring recipes - particular ones that I like are: spinach soup with chickpeas, Moroccan lentil soup with coriander oil, fast minestrone soup and spring risotto soup. Accompaniments include a dip - Turkish dip - Dukkah, and solids such as crouton, parsnip crisps and cornbread.
Summer recipes include cream of asparagus, fennel, orange and sundried tomato soup, green pea and mint, chilled watermelon soup. Accompaniments include Lavender focaccia (firmly on my to-do list), pine nut and oregano breadsticks, feta, olive and tomato scones, pistachio and pecorino biscotti.
Autumn recipes include cauliflower soup with roasted cashew nuts, fiery smoked paprika, sausage and cabbage (gorgeous!), corn and bacon chowder and fondue style onion soup. Accompaniments include bruschetta with tapenade, dumplings, grissini pastry puffs, polenta pancetta and sage muffins.
Winter recipes include puy lentil and bacon soup, citrus parsnip soup, spinach, mushroom and lentil soup and old fashioned barley, ham and vegetable soup. Accompaniments include blue cheese crumbles (biscuits), sunflower soda bread, tortilla strips, naan bread with fennel and black onion seeds.
As you can see the recipes although largely variations of the same methods are all widely varied - from traditional, twists on traditionals, more unusual and extensions of soup ie broths, chowders. The favourites that I have listed are just a small proportion of the recipes that I like. I think that if you enjoy soups, there is a lot here you can gain. A lot of the ingredients are not so unusual that you will not have them in your fridge or store cupboard. Also, soups in general are fantastic I find for easy to make evening meals or for preparing ahead of time - this book shows soups up to their absolute highest level of versatility and taste. The methods are clearly explained and easy to follow.
However I think what makes this book completely standout is the recipes for the accompaniments - I definitely think that there are ideas there to suit all tastes and I have even used them away from soups as easy snacks for an evening in for example. It is nice to be able to have something tasty to go with soups that is not just a normal slice of bread.
In conclusion, I absolutely love this book. It is absolutely brimming with good and tasty ideas which can provide a satisfying meal for not masses of effort.