Everyone loves soup, the world's most versatile dish. James Peterson's Splendid Soups
, first published in 1993 and now updated, celebrates that fact with stunning comprehensiveness. Offering almost 300 tantalizing recipes ranging from the most pristine consommés to the heartiest peasant stews, the book also provides extensive technical information, tips, and serving suggestions that make it a true soup tutorial. The book's "ultimate goal," says Peterson, "is to give the reader the tools with which to invent," an aim he realizes with clarity, warmth, and precision. It's hard to imagine a cook who wouldn't embrace this authoritative yet companionable work.
The recipe range is vast. In 10 chapters that cover all the soup bases, including yogurt, bread, and fruit mixtures, Peterson offers an encyclopedic dish array. Among the entries new to this edition are Roast Garlic and Acorn Squash Soup, Thai-Style Hot and Sour Blue Crab Soup, and Dried Fruit Soup, a traditional Swedish specialty. Especially noteworthy is Peterson's introductory section on ethnic soups; a section offering strategies for reducing a soup's fat content (don't let meat broths boil, which homogenizes fat and liquid); and advice on what to drink with soup. With 40 color photos taken by the author, an equipment guide, and a useful chart for soup improvisation, the book is better than ever and a must-have for any kitchen library. --Arthur Boehm
Tremendously informative and stubbornly opinionated, master chef Peterson updates his classic soup tome by stirring new recipes and more international ingredients into the pot. Before getting to the recipes, readers are treated to a detailed remedial education in ingredients, featuring Peterson's humorously fussy explanations of dried and fresh herbs. The tried-and-true leek stands alongside the trendy galangal root as a soup essential, as Peterson enlarges the intermediate cook's familiarity with international cuisines. Peterson also seeks to re-educate readers on the proper methods for composing bouquet garni, making a roux and improving the flavor of the commercial broths they will insist on buying. He wisely intersperses his suggestions for technique alongside relevant recipes, making valuable information accessible for the busy cook. The recipes are roughly organized by ingredient and include the vast range of vegetable soups in some unusual combinations (Water Chestnuts with Watercress and Sweet Potato with Chili and Lime). Other noteworthy concoctions include Spicy Brazilian Fish Soup with Coconut Milk; Shabu-Shabu; and Duck and Sherry Soup. Most of Peterson's recipes are not for the fat-phobic; whether he's extolling the virtues of heavy cream over milk and yogurt or encouraging readers to add a few pats of butter to any bowl of soup they order in a restaurant, Peterson throws caution to the wind.
September 18, 2000