Pros: Solidly good recipes; hints for making them work for both adults and kids
Cons: Recipes were good, but didn’t knock my socks off
Rating: 4 out of 5
Review book courtesy of The Countryman Press.
Soups and stews are indeed wonderful things on a cold Fall or Winter day, and can play host to a panoply of healthful nutrients. Soups and stews are a fantastic way to get good food into your family; almost everyone loves them. Liza Fosburgh’s Soups & Stews for Fall and Winter Days aims to provide recipes that will please kids and adults alike.
These tend to be old-fashioned soups, many calling for a lamb bone or a ham bone to give them flavor, although of course if you have a particularly flavorful stock that you like you can use that instead. These are soups and stews that also try to pack in as many healthful vegetables as possible while hiding their healthiness from any kids who might happen across them.
One of the unusual aspects to this book is the presence of recipe tips for making both adults and kids happy with the recipes. For example, one soup recommends splitting it into two pots when done, and adding sherry to the adults’ pot and apple juice to the kids’. Another suggests chopping the parsley as fine as possible so as to avoid grossing out the kids.
Unfortunately, while the recipes were solidly decent, none of the ones we tried really wowed me. The flavors seemed a bit unbalanced, or just kind of there. Also, none of the recipes mention adding the salt and pepper to taste at the end, which is a tad unusual; so if you’re the kind of cook who forgets to do anything that isn’t in the recipe, make sure you remind yourself of that. Some of the recipes definitely need the addition.
I do think that these recipes might be more appealing to folks with blander tastes than ours, and to kids, which is why I’m still giving this book a four out of five—after all, it is aimed at families with kids, and kids tend to have notoriously bland tastes. The book does lack photos if that matters to you, but I don’t tend to think that soups require them—there isn’t much that needs showing.
The book includes a good range of recipes. Most of them don’t work for vegetarians as written, since even those that don’t include meat directly usually include a meat bone for flavor; however it’s easy enough to substitute a good, flavorful vegetable stock in these recipes.
Chapters include meats & poultry, beans peas & lentils, seafood, vegetables, fruit, and basics. In practice I found there was quite a bit of overlap, making some of these distinctions a little arbitrary, but that’s a standard hazard with soups! The fruit soups, surprisingly, are savory soups using things like pumpkin, tomato, orange, lemon, etc.
If you have kids and are looking for a good way to incorporate more healthy soups and stews into their diet, then I think this book might do the job. It includes a wide range of recipes, and has plenty of tips for making sure your kids enjoy what you make.
I got to say that we have forgoten how to cook. I have a couple of recipe websites and i am all ways getting questions for more details on recipes. To me a recipe is just a starting point and is ment to be experimented with. With the exception of some baking technics were amounts can be critical. Taste while its cooking and if you think its a little bland add some thing to it to bring up the flavor. I can not tell you the last time i followed a recipe down to the letter. I always change it up some way to fit my taste. Be adventurious in cooking, thats my moto.
While I agree with you, there are so many cookbooks out there that if you’re going to spend money on them, you might as well get ones that are to your taste. If you like flavorful cooking, why bother with a cookbook by someone whose tastes run to the bland when there are so many other options that would suit you? Similarly if your tastes run to the bland, you’re better off getting a book that suits you than a book of flavorful cooking that you then have to adjust to your tastes. Absolutely, mix things up and play around with recipes. But there really isn’t a point in paying money for a book of recipes that don’t suit you, given the variety out there. Which is why I always try to specify where in the spectrum a book falls, so folks can get what suits their own tastes.