Everyone loves soup, the world's most versatile dish. James Peterson's Splendid Soups, first published in 1993 and now updated, celebrates that fact with stunning comprehensiveness. Offering almost 300 tantalizing recipes ranging from the most pristine consommés to the heartiest peasant stews, the book also provides extensive technical information, tips, and serving suggestions that make it a true soup tutorial. The book's "ultimate goal," says Peterson, "is to give the reader the tools with which to invent," an aim he realizes with clarity, warmth, and precision. It's hard to imagine a cook who wouldn't embrace this authoritative yet companionable work.
The recipe range is vast. In 10 chapters that cover all the soup bases, including yogurt, bread, and fruit mixtures, Peterson offers an encyclopedic dish array. Among the entries new to this edition are Roast Garlic and Acorn Squash Soup, Thai-Style Hot and Sour Blue Crab Soup, and Dried Fruit Soup, a traditional Swedish specialty. Especially noteworthy is Peterson's introductory section on ethnic soups; a section offering strategies for reducing a soup's fat content (don't let meat broths boil, which homogenizes fat and liquid); and advice on what to drink with soup. With 40 color photos taken by the author, an equipment guide, and a useful chart for soup improvisation, the book is better than ever and a must-have for any kitchen library. --Arthur Boehm