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Soup: A Way of Life [Hardcover]

Barbara Kafka
3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Nov. 1 1998
"Dora, my maternal grandmother," writes Barbara Kafka in her new book, "started the soup tradition that means most to me, which is odd as she was, by all accounts, a bad cook....I hope I am a better cook, and my life has certainly been easier, but I learned from her that a pot of soup is warmth and welcome for family and friends alike."

In this stunningly rich and wide-ranging book, Barbara Kafka gives the food we love perhaps best in the world a new vitality. Though the subject is so familiar to us all, her approach is totally original, just as it was in her award-winning Roasting: A Simple Art and Microwave Gourmet. In a wonderfully diverse collection of nearly three hundred recipes from all over the world--some traditional, some newly minted, many so simple they require no cooking at all, each of them very much a part of our spiritual and emotional lives--she offers up a lifetime worth of pleasure:

  • icy soups for steamy days (ceviche soup with ginger) and hot soups for cold days (winter duck soup)

  • rustic potages (great green soup) and elegant consommes (beef madrilene)

  • simple soups to start (Moroccan tomato) and complex soups that make a meal (beef short ribs in a pot)

  • fifteen-minute specials (mussels and tomato soup) and those that simmer all day (pot-au-feu)

  • a magical garlic broth, among other vegetable broths and bases, gives vegetarians hundreds of recipes to enjoy

    As always, Barbara's intelligence and talent for innovation have resulted in a vast body of ideas to make your life in the kitchen easy and interesting. Nearly thirty stocks are offered, as well as dozens of ways to use seasonal produce to cook and freeze soup bases for year-round fresh taste. You'll find cooking times for everything from dumplings and piroshki to noodles and pasta, simmering times for every possible cut of meat, and yields and blanching times for dozens of vegetables. There are easy-to-follow charts to answer every cooking question.

    And then there's Barbara's "memory pieces." Woven through the recipes, they form a book within a book, one family's personal and culinary history. They're fascinating and warming and enriching on their own. They also remind us why soup is a vital part of our lives. And why Barbara Kafka is a vital part of our cooking experience.

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    Product Details

    Product Description

    From Amazon

    Barbara Kafka, author of such important and popular books as Roasting: A Simple Art, Party Food, and Microwave Gourmet, doesn't just speak with the voice of authority when she addresses anything that might have to do with food, she speaks with the voice of the woman who invented fire. It's right there, that voice, deep in her soul. And it calls out loud and clear in page after page of what has to be one of her best books ever.

    Soup is the blood in Barbara Kafka's veins. "When I am tired and want comfort," she writes, "or when I want to share happiness, or just when I want something full of flavor, my first desire is soup." It is through soup that Kafka embraces the generations of her family, her husband's family, the families of her children's spouses. It is through soup that Kafka embraces the world. "Every culture has its soups and the soups may be said to represent them."

    The book begins with a brief overview of technique ("How to Boil Water"), then drops right into a section she calls "Family Soups." Here are the soups Kafka identifies with her grandmother and mother (Chicken Soup and Split-Pea Soup, respectively), her husband (Winter Duck Soup), her own youth (Gazpacho), her adult nature (Veal Soup with Fennel), as well as soups linked to other members of her family. It's as personal as looking through the Kafka family photo album with the author at your side.

    From that base, Ms. Kafka moves on to the world of soups, be they of a vegetable nature, or those that rely on various birds or meats or seafoods. She winds down with stocks, noodles, dumplings, sauces, and the like.

    It's a masterful production: simple, clear, uncluttered, direct, and thorough. It's a book that opens the senses to the world much as the steam rising off a bowl of lovingly made soup. --Schuyler Ingle

    From Publishers Weekly

    Kafka (Roasting: A Simple Art; The James Beard Celebration Cookbook, ed.) is known for her strong opinions and thorough probing of her subjects, and this encyclopedia of soup lore and nearly 300 recipes follows that pattern. The recipes are terrific. Who could argue with hearty Winter Duck Soup, refreshing Simple Celery Soup, festive Tortilla Soup, elegant Cold Pea and Mint Puree with Shrimp or a Spicy Peanut Butter Soup that can be served hot or cold? Meal-in-a-pot soups such as Turkey Soup Meal with Swiss Chard are particularly promising. The organization, however, is eclectic and prevents the book from being a fully functional reference work. Kafka starts off with soups that have been important to her family members and then divides them roughly by ingredients (e.g., poultry, fish, vegetables). But since most soup recipes blur these boundaries, the divisions are confusing. Sour Cherry Soup ends up stuck in a chapter on vegetable soups (subdivided into hot and cold), and Japanese Shabu Shabu lands in the meat chapter, although it contains plenty of vegetables. A section on stocks features five different chicken stocks alone, including Jean-Georges Vongerichten's Chicken Stock, which is recommended for only one recipe. The chapter on noodles, dumplings and other additions to soup is wonderful, and Kafka's humor is enjoyably sly (a segment on using nonreactive cookware is labeled "Pot and Acid"). With this much choice to page through, ranging from Garlic Broth to Stewed Eels Comacchio Style, readers will most often agree that, in this case, the path to the treasure is also the treasure. 60,000 first printing; $100,000 ad/promo; BOMC/ Good Cook main selection; 10-city author tour.
    Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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    Customer Reviews

    Most helpful customer reviews
    5.0 out of 5 stars Extensive, delicious and extremely accessable. Nov. 28 1998
    By A Customer
    Luckily, I picked up Soup A Way of Life while fall's ripe tomatoes were still abound. The resulting Tomato and Bread Soup was meant to feed six, but the two of us kept refilling our bowls, leaving none. It was heavenly. A garlic lover, I moved on to Garlic Soup with Poached Eggs, then tried the same with Broccoli di Rappe which, with the addition of pasta, along with a green salad and some crsip apples became a memorable meal. Ernie's favorite, Winter Duck Soup, was a hit one weekend and a trip to China Town produced asumptuous Stewed eels. As winter approaches, chilly evenings beg for a substantial Borscht or any of the bean soups which I can't wait to try in all their variations. I expect we will be eating well for some time to come. But not only the recipes are attractive. The prose is a pleasure to read. The warmth with which Mrs. Kafka introduces the people close to her is a joy to share. This book celebrates family and the love of food. Bravo.
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    1.0 out of 5 stars Save your money and buy a good novel. Oct. 17 2000
    By A Customer
    Because Ms. Kafka was at Vogue for so long, I assumed (wrongly) that this book would be divine. I have made about 5 soups from this book, 4 of which my husband simply refused to eat. Even her basic stock recipes are insipid. Her little family anecdotes are maudlin, but with the advent of Martha Stewart Omniverous er, Omnimedia, and her magazine perfect life and self-congratulatory writing, maybe I'm a tad cynical. Support your local economy and dine out at your favorite restaurant. Skip the soup course.
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    1.0 out of 5 stars Terrible -- What a Disappointment March 25 1999
    After reading and using "Roasting" by Kafka, I couldn't wait to get this new volume. Soup is in my blood. My Polish grandmother could make soup out of anything. Upon receipt I immediately tore open this book, looking forward to starting immediately. I did not find one single recipe that enticed me. Maybe my tastes are too "country", but this cookbook will remain closed on my shelf gathering dust rather than use.
    Was this review helpful to you?
    Barbara Kafka continues her series of extraordinary cookbooks. Here, as in her previous books, there are WONDERFUL recipes and, to spice up the book, there is fascinating, intelligent, interesting commentary about cooking techniques, personal interests, family history and variations of a theme, such as borscht. A terrific book for all who love to eat and love to cook...
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    1.0 out of 5 stars Burn this cookbook April 1 2002
    By A Customer
    I was suspicious of this woman when she wrote a food column for Vogue magazine and praised iceburg lettuce. Always willing to give someone the benefit of the doubt, I tried 4 recipes from this cookbook. They were appalling and even my dog Zeke, the most undiscriminating gourmande on the planet, wouldn't eat them.
    (Good dog.)
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    3.0 out of 5 stars OK Jan. 25 2002
    By Westley
    This cookbook is lovely to look at and has nice vignettes about the author and her love of soup. However, the recipes were not my cup of tea. Too many of them contained either fish of odd ingredients that I would choose to avoid (e.g., oxtail). As a result, I have made few of these recipes.
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