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Zuppe: Soups from the Kitchen of the American Academy in Rome, The Rome Sustainable Food Project Hardcover – Apr 3 2012


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Review

"Mona Talbott’s Zuppe is smaller than a salad plate, but filled with 50 delicious, simple recipes...The recipes are classic Italian, but with [Mona's] own flair: purée half of the carrots in a lentil and carrot soup for body and color; infuse olive oil with chili flakes and drizzle over a hearty potato and chickpea soup; blitz some unexpected parsley along with the usual mint, and stir into a pea purée. The deliciousness-to-cheapness ratio of Talbott’s recipes will give you a thrill." —Christine Muhlke, The New York Times Book Review      

"Mona Talbott's Zuppe is as much a collection of inspiring Italian soup recipes—like puréed pea with mint—as it is a window into the eco-conscious, seasonal kitchen of the American Academy in Rome." — T, The New York Times Style Magazine

"Direct from the Alice Waters–revolutionized kitchen of the American Academy in Rome comes this uniquely conceived and designed single-subject cookbook, Zuppe….the small book is a well-curated collection of recipes...and is Chez Panisse alumna Mona Talbott's elegant ode to the simplicity and elegant comfort of making soups for all seasons." — Vogue.com

About the Author

Mona Talbott was chosen by Alice Waters to be the Executive Chef of the Rome Sustainable Food Project in 2006. Talbott is a mentor to many cooks starting their careers and is a respected teacher, author, and chef. Her first food-related job was working in large reforestation camps in Canada. After culinary school she was hired by Alice Waters to work at Chez Panisse. She later worked at Eli Zabar's Vinegar Factory and E.A.T. stores in New York and consulted for Hillary Clinton at her home in Chappaqua, New York. In 1999, Talbott began working as a chef for photographer Annie Leibovitz, and in 2004, was hired by Bette Midler's New York Restoration Project to design a children's after-school gardening and cooking program. In 2009, she was selected to be in COCO: 10 World-leading Masters Choose 100 Contemporary Chefs. She has written articles and recipes for The New York Times, Saveur, and Organic Style.

Annie Schlechter has been working as a photographer since 1998. She spent from September 2009 to June 2010 living at the American Academy in Rome. Her clients include The World of Interiors, House Beautiful, The New York Times Magazine, Real Simple, W magazine, Travel & Leisure, and many more.

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
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Amazon.com: 21 reviews
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Cucina Povera June 12 2012
By Theresa E. Curry - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
At first, I was surprised that the American Academy in Rome would assume that Italians might need their help in preserving time-honored food traditions. This is a subject Italians are famously passionate about. After reading (and cooking from) "Zuppe," a wonderful collection of soups (whose sale benefits the Rome Sustainable Food Project), I understand better what's up. The student-chefs at the American Academy have put together an extraordinary collection of soup ("zuppe") recipes, their patronage -- under the auspices of legendary chef Alice Waters -- offered as a way to show gratitude to their hosts.

I've always believed that soup could be part of the answer to some of the problems closer to home, as budgets shrink and people begin to show the damaging effects of a national diet that fails to nourish in any sense. Trendy and precious, the ongoing coverage of high-end specialty food and restaurants is not the answer. Rather, I agree with chef Michael Ruhlman that the world is simply better when we cook at home. Soups -- traditionally based on vegetables and grains, or meat products that would be otherwise thrown away -- is an extremely cost-effective way to put lots of flavor and satisfaction on your table every night.

Few of us would go as far to reclaim otherwise wasted ingredients as they do in the kitchen of the American Academy, where fennel tops, usually cut from the fennel bulb and thrown away, are used in a amazingly flavorful potato and fennel soup. This is a demonstration of "cucina povera," a reference to a possibly impoverished kitchen, but also used as a kind of compliment to signal that a thrifty cook has been at work.

That the students come up with their own versions of soups based on the ingredients at hand is no departure from their devotion to conservation, nor is it an insult to the traditional recipe. This is "arrangiarsi," the concept of using whatever you have, and is exactly what makes Italian cooking the best in the world.

If you've never made soup, this would be a great place to start. "Zuppe" is a lovely book, and every recipe has a bonus, a little cooking lesson incorporating the small steps and traditions that build flavor and preserve nutrition. With beautiful photography by Annie Schlechter and a format divided by seasons (they don't exactly correspond to our seasons, so look through them all), Find other cookbook reviews and food stories and photos at [...].
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Molto Benne!!! May 25 2012
By Cooking Mom - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
What a delightful little cookbook. It's springtime in California....the farm market was brimming with fresh artichokes, peas,asparagus,and fava beans, so we tried several of her seasonal spring soups. Truly delicious and well-worth the effort. I doubled all the recipes so we have a freezer full of wonderful fresh home-made soups. The recipes are easy to follow and the soups are fresh, tasty, and filling. 5 stars from a home cook.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Womderful recipes, poor editing Jan. 6 2013
By Pen Name - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I started with Pasta e fagioli - and it was delicious. However, a novice would have run into trouble, since theinstructions omit the crucial step of adding water. I guessed how much to add and it worked out. The recipe also didn't say when to remove the aromatics (unchopped celery and onion) from the broth.

Another problem: the index is simply a list of the recipes contained in the book in alphabetical order!
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Best soup book ever Feb. 26 2013
By scratchcook - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I discovered this gem of a cookbook at a friend's house over a long cold weekend in the snow, could not put it down, and made one of the bean and kale soups that first night. Just looking at the interesting and sometimes unusual combinations of ingredients was exciting. The recipes are arranged by season, which is always helpful to find inspiration and go shopping or match up with whatever is handy in the kitchen. You should expect to find and experiment with soups that are a little different from the usual suspects in cookbooks with a 'Soup' section. For example, a forte of the winter section is the extensive use of different kinds of beans along with leeks and kale varieties. In this book, many soups stand out as really creative dinner party dishes. However, all are really suitable for family meals. In the back, there is a description of the key ingredients, along with some Roman roots. Picture plates are mostly of ingredients, chefs, and the Roman environs related to the cooking school that has inspired the publication... a few more pics of finished dishes would have been good. The just right smallish physical size of the recipe book is great, too, fitting easily on a kitchen bench. Soon, pages in my copy will be well splattered with ingredients of recipes tried out.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Somewhat vague, but excellent, recipes for a healthy and delicious food; great deal at the moment April 6 2012
By Robert C. Ross - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
The New York Review of Books is currently running an excellent deal on all four of the books in this series:

All the RSFP recipes are rooted in la cucina povera, “the food of the poor,” a style of simple, wholesome, and wonderfully flavorful cooking that developed centuries ago in the agricultural communities of Italy. The recipes are healthy and economical, and will quickly become go-to dishes for everyday meals as well as special occasions—the spirit of la dolce vita inspires all of the RSFP cookbooks. Gorgeous photos by Annie Schlechter illustrate the recipes, and allow readers a glimpse into the kitchen, dining room, and garden of the American Academy in Rome.

Whether you’re interested in vegetable dishes, soups, pasta, or something sweet, take advantage of our 30% discount on Verdure, Zuppe, Pasta, and Biscotti. The set of all four books—a memorable gift—is available at 40% off.

***

Three years ago I found this an inspirational book, which encouraged me to make soup on the spur of the moment, quicker and better than the ones I bought in cans or even frozen from the fancy Market Basket here in Franklin Lakes. It continues to inspire; last night I made a soup with approximately the following ingredients:

One carrot
One celery stalk
One half small onion
One garlic clove
Half cup diced tomatoes
Sprinkle of quinoa -- maybe quarter of a cup
Enough vegetable stock to cover
Some spices -- Better Than Bouillon Chicken Base 8 oz and McCormick Italian Seasoning

Bring to boil, and then simmer until tastes right -- maybe ten minutes

Lots of Italian recipes are much less precise, at least those published in Italy. If "nonnulla", literally a "not nothing", a trifle, bothers you and you seek more precision, pick another introduction to Italian cooking. Whatever you choose, a cuisine focusing on quality ingredients is well worth mastering.

According to the Academy's website, "the Rome Sustainable Food Project provides the community of the American Academy in Rome with a collaborative dining program that nourishes scholarship and conviviality." People who have been lucky enough to attend the Academy sing the praises of studying and also working "making their daily bread". Here is Brad Kessler:

"The kitchen at the academy knits together the seemingly disparate worlds of scholarship and eating. Culture and agriculture. Art on the page (canvas or mosaics) and art on the table. In Rome these arts have never been far removed. The kitchen teaches this, not with lectures or books or power-point presentations, but with a more immediate means: food placed into the mouth. The knowledge enters the fellows directly--alimentarily--without the brain getting in the way."

This is a collection of 50 recipes for soups, more with the several variations she suggests, an essential element of a Roman meal. Mona Talbott is a great believer in "cucina povera" ["cuisine of the poor"]; her recipes waste nothing and employ the concept of "arrangiarsi" ["making do"]. Soup is a wonderful way to transform leftovers, she believes, and notes which soups can be made into one-dish meals with the addition of a poached egg, grilled toast, or even clams.

I've been able to try five of the soups, each of which was relatively easy to make and each of which taught me a little bit more about Rome and the Lazio region in general. The Chickpea, Pumpkin, and Farro Soup was wonderfully warming on the first day of spring here in New Jersey, a raw and blustery day. I also liked the Pasta e Ceci and Pasta e Fagioli, but then I'm a great fan of Garbanzo Beans -- Zuppe certainly improved my preparation of a favorite ingredient.

You can read a couple of sample recipes on the website of The Little Bookroom, which published this fine cookbook; the introductory material is particularly useful. For example, I would never have considered a cold or room temperature minestra soup, but the recipe here would certainly be very refreshing on a hot summer's day. Who ever considered barley water as a base, and yet barley water is well known for its hydrating properties.

This book is the second in the series; the first is Biscotti: Recipes from the Kitchen of The American Academy in Rome, The Rome Sustainable Food Project, and the publisher promises other volumes in what promises to be a beautiful series.

In the meantime, let Talbott sum up: "Wholesome, egalitarian and economical, soup is the perfect food for our modern lives."

Robert C. Ross
April 2012
revised February 2015


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