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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 300 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)

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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
4.0 out of 5 stars I like this book, shocked to see the negatives June 25 2002
I love to cook, and am an avid "Roaster", partly due to Kafka's roasting book. I have had great luck with this book, especially the recipe for bread soup, and with the bouliabase. There are few secrets, just use good fresh ingredients, and taylor the soups to suit your taste.
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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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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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5.0 out of 5 stars Food Worth the Effort May 24 2000
Kafka presents recipies that are far less challenging then many other serious cookbooks. Her simple prose and straight forward recipies are perfect for the cook ready to move up the culinary ladder.
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1.0 out of 5 stars No soup for you. Feb. 21 2000
I could not find a single recipe that I would use. Either they contained odd ingredients or the entire recipe did not sound edible. I absolutely do not recommend purchasing this book.
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