Atlas (Vegetarian Soups for All Seasons) defies the stereotype of convenience vegan food as being heavy on rubbery, unappetizing substitutes for normal ingredients. Though many of the dishes require only around half an hour to make, they skew more toward fresh vegetables and herbs rather than to faux meat. Spicy, flavorful recipes such as Curried Chickpeas with Chutney Bulgur and Salsa Orzo and Black Bean Salad send a clear message that one can cook vegan meals that satisfy even nonvegans. Atlas does use the basic protein alternatives (seitan, tofu and tempeh) as well as vegan cheeses and creamers at times, but these are incorporated so skillfully that people who usually turn up their noses at them will have no grounds to object. The book has strong international flair, with tofu replacing eggs in a Middleeastern Shakshouka and standing in for paneer in the Indian Tofu Aloo Gobi, as well as traditional meatless favorites like Pasta Puttanesca and Pad Thai. A few snacks and desserts are included, but most of the recipes are for dishes that, with a simple side, comprise a meal, facilitating speed, and Atlas sprinkles helpful tips on menu planning and variations throughout. The lack of photos to emphasize the food's appetizing potential is disappointing, but vegan, vegetarian and health-conscious omnivores just might be convinced after trying it out. (Feb.)
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