The Soup and Bread Cookbook by Beatrice Ojakangas. Rodale Books. Photographs by Hector Sanchez. ISBN: 978-1-60961-362-4. (Retail: $23.99 / Amazon: $18.47) (October 2013)
First, I love cookbooks. I buy them for many reasons besides wanting to make the delicious sounding recipes in them. I buy them for the beautiful photos or artwork, the way they’re set-up and designed, their clarity, and especially if the writing is clear, informative, entertaining, and the recipes themselves seem to be accurate (no ingredients hidden in the instructions that aren’t in the list of ingredients — that sort of thing). I even have the two books by Laurie Colwin that aren’t so much about the recipes as they are about cooking, food, and good eating and read like you were sitting around the table with a cuppa and just talking.
Ojakangas’ The Soup and Bread Cookbooks has some of that flavor for me. The introduction to each season’s recipes is sort of a quick overview of what the season means to her. There’s also some interesting background in the short information piece on each recipe. The recipes seem set up to make them easy to follow and the instructions are clear. Some of the recipes have variations and some of the bread recipes have instruction for using a bread machine rather than doing it all by hand.
My preference is for recipes and cookbooks that use actual ingredients rather than a can of this and a can of that, plus a box mix or two of something else. All the recipes use real food — which is better for you and your family. However, I did notice that many had a note on use of a canned or frozen ingredient as well as some substitutions if something wasn’t available in your area.
The photography was beautiful and it looks like this would be a cookbook you could sit and look at over and over.
Now for the cons:
Understand that I read a digital review copy which expired just about the time I finished reading through it. Digital review copies, as well as the print review copies are unfinished — there were a few places where there was just a note on what would be added, such as a sidebar. Even so, the instructions were still clear and concise — meaning I have great hopes for the finished edition. None of the recipes, in the copy I read, had calorie, carbs, etc. listed for a serving size. Normally, that wouldn’t be of interest to me but my family is being really careful right now due to a medical need to cut cholesterol and lose weight — so I’m more aware of this information not being readily available. WARNING: Since the copy I read was unfinished some of the material may change between the copy I read and the finished one you’ll find in your favorite bookstore.
Overall, I found this cookbook to be one I’ll more than likely go out and buy when it comes out in October. You’ll notice that the recipes that most often caught my attention are those for bread — I love bread. During the winter, I make bread — from scratch — nearly every week. While I currently have a bread machine, I still like to set it on dough and knead it — there’s something so satisfying and relaxing about making bread. Anyway, that another reviewer bias for you to add into the mix.
Now for the details:
Basics: Stocks, Broths, and Basic Breads
This section contained some recipes as well as helpful information and tips.
Recipes: Basic Chicken Stock, Two-for-One Chicken Stock (for soup stock and flavoring beans and rice dishes, braising vegetables, etc.), Two-for-One Beef Stock. Soup Tips: Cooling Stock Safely, Tips for making broth or stocks in a slow cooker, How to freeze stocks and Broths, Basic Vegetable Broth.
Glossary of Bread-Baking Basics
This section had some really good advice on breadmaking and some tips on how to get it right.
Recipes included: Fresh Baguette, Basic Vegetable Soup (whatever is in the house soup), Basic Home-Baked Bread (with Variations)
The book is arranged with the recipes chosen for what fresh ingredients would be available, and to deal with the heat or cold of the time of year. For each season, I’ve listed the total number of recipes for either soup or bread and the recipes that really got me wanting to pull out the pots and pans and try out. Luckily, I just did a read through because the book expired before I finished reading it through and if I’d stopped to cook along the way, I wouldn’t have gotten through it.
27 soup and bread recipes
Some recipes that sounded interesting: Herbed Biscuit Muffins, Wheat Germ Batter Bread, Rosemary Focaccia, Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins, Asian Lemon-Ginger Soup, Cheddar Cheese Onion Scones, Walleye Chowder, and Super Simple Salmon Chowder.
24 soup and bread recipes
A sample listing of the recipes in this section I enjoyed reading: Whole Wheat Buttermilk Biscuits, Avgolemondo Soup, Pita Bread, Summer Day Herb-scented Soup, Whole-Grain Buttermilk Oatmeal Bread, Bacon Parmesan Crackers, Red Curry & Coconut Bread, Spiced Zucchini Soup10-minute Chickpea-Tomato Soup, Easy Refrigerator Rolls. Cranberry Bean & Pasta Soup. Southwestern Chicken Tortilla Soup, and Cowboy Beer & Cheddar Bread.
26 soup and bread recipes
The first recipe in this section is for Stone Soup based on the children’s story. This is great for an autumn party potluck dinner and the author gives suggestions for what the guests should bring, as well as a bit of the story of stone soup.
Some of the recipes that caught my eye as ones I’d really like to make are: Oatmeal Batter Bread, Curried Chicken Wild Rice Soup, Dutch Raisin Bread, Green Cabbage & Hamburger Soup, Honey Whole Wheat Cranberry-Nut Bread, Brie & Apple Soup, Granola Loaf, Buttermilk Corn Muffins, and Curried Pumpkin Soup.
I was surprised by the Old-Fashioned Gridded Cheese, Apple, & Basil Sandwiches. I love grilled cheese sandwiches and often have them with swiss cheese, onion, and tomato but never thought of using apple and basil — what was I thinking, or rather not thinking to never consider this taste combination? I’ve got to try this in the fall when we usually have apples in the house.
30 soup and bread recipes.
Some of the recipes that intrigued me in this section: Spicy Black Bean Soup (one can never have enough black bean soup recipes), Oatmeal Rusks, Brown Bread Muffins, New Year’s Good Luck Lentil Soup, Johnnycake, Herbed White Bean & Sausage Soup, Beer Biscuits, Cumin & Coriander Bean Soup, Senate Bean Soup (similar to one served in the US Senate dining room), Molasses Wheat Loaf, Rustic Rye Bread, Swedish Yellow Pea Soup with Pork, Overnight Mini Croissants, Russian Black Bread (there’s chocolate and coffee in this one), Cabbage & Apple Soup, Mulligan Stew, and Feijoada (a black bean soup with oranges).
All in all, a great cookbook, especially if you have a garden or a good produce section in your local stores. Not a lot of specialty items needed. Soups are always great because you can stretch them out to feed company or for several meals. Since many people are cutting their budgets and food is usually a big expense for most families — soups and homemade bread would be a great way to serve nutritious meals at a lower cost per person.
As always, feel free to leave a comment.