[This review is based on the Nook Book edition published by Storey Publishing in 2013, and provided by NetGalley.]
Here’s the deal:
The title of this book is self-explanatory: Maggie Stuckey has created a book of soup recipes that can be multiplied to feed large groups of people. The book also contains stories from various Soup Night groups around the country, as well as recipes featured at those events. The recipes throughout the book range from chowders to chilis, and from stews to vegetable soups. There are recipes for each season of the year as well as side dishes and desserts. Soup Night contains everything you need to have a successful event in your own neighborhood.
My first thought upon opening the book was about how beautiful the photography was. I like taking pictures of my food, but I’m not very good at it (the fact that I only have a smartphone and a point-and-shoot camera, and no experience with “serious” photography, probably doesn’t help matters). A professional was obviously hired to photograph the various bowls of comfort for the book, and she did such a good job that I could practically smell the soups through my Nook.
Creamy Cauliflower Soup, photographed by Lara Ferroni:
See what I mean?!
My next thought centered around the idea of a Soup Night itself: it’s such a smart concept, though so few people seem to think of it. Just thinking of myself and my own family, we don’t really know our neighbors. We’re friendly with the family that lives next door to us (we bonded a bit over all having small children), and we say hello to the woman directly across the street from us when we see her outside. We don’t make a concerted effort to go and visit our neighbors, though, and they don’t visit us, either. Our house is small and certainly couldn’t hold the entire block for a Soup Night, but most of our neighbors have two-story townhouses and could probably manage it. Even if we didn’t do this with our neighbors, it’s a great excuse to get together with family and friends we haven’t seen in a while. Life is very busy and it’s easy to lose track of each other! The fact that Soup Night is chock-full of personal anecdotes from Soup Night attendees around the country adds to the allure of creating and hosting such an event, and I found myself itching to start one.
The last thing that I thought about was the plethora of soup recipes contained within this book. They’re broken down by season, so in the Fall chapter you’ll find Italian Bean and Pasta Soup (otherwise known as Pasta Fagioli) and Pumpkin Curry Soup; Butternut and Acorn Squash Soup and Chicken Soup with Lentils and Barley are just a few of the Winter selections; in the Spring, you’ll discover Pot Sticker Spinach Soup and Roasted Garlic and Onion Cream Soup, among others; and the Summer chapter contains Garden Gazpacho and Smoked Salmon Corn Chowder, to name a few. There are also salads, breads, and desserts like Peanut Butter-Chocolate Chip Cookies, Cheddar Drop Biscuits, Yummy Coleslaw, and Raspberry Pie scattered throughout. Maggie Stuckey discusses the advantages and disadvantages of using fresh versus frozen, or fresh versus canned, ingredients in the first chapter of Soup Night, and some of her thoughts may surprise you (and perhaps pleasantly so, like they did for me). Additionally, there are few foods healthier than homemade soups; as someone who’s trying to shed a few pounds, this is exactly the kind of book I’ve been looking for! Save calories and have fun? I’m in!
So would I recommend this book?
Absolutely!! Whether you’re interested in starting a Soup Night with your block or just with your friends and family, the concept is brilliant and the recipes are amazing. There is literally a soup for every palate in the book, and the multitude of soups to choose from can make for a really fun mix-and-match meal. If you decide to have a Soup Night where you live, be sure to email me to share pictures and an account of the night. I’d be happy to include it as a guest post on the blog! Happy eating!
And by the way, the book’s publisher has an event kit available for purchase, and certain components are available to download, so you can have a successful Soup Night. You might even want to consider purchasing an extra copy of Soup Night to raffle off! You can find the event kit here.