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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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"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.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
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 [...].
Another problem: the index is simply a list of the recipes contained in the book in alphabetical order!
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 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
revised February 2015