I AM COOKING UP MY NEXT BOOK, deep in the throes of it, and I guess my dear literary agent Kris Dahl wanted to make sure I didn’t leave the house, not ever, until it’s done, so she sent a care package. In the mail arrived “Love Soup,” a new cookbook by another of her clients, Anna Thomas. Now I am watching a literal pot come to a boil, too, day in and out, as I turn the sweet and white potatoes and kale and chard and all the other cool-season goodness left in the garden into a coming winter of feasts.
Thomas’s first book, the million-plus-seller “Vegetarian Epicure,” came out when I was first experimenting with vegetarianism, in the early 1970s. The experiment eventually stuck about 30 years ago, just before my lifetime habit of gardening did, and with the two combined practices I’ve have a lot of vegetables on my hands, and plate. As many ways as I know how to process and store a harvest, though, I’m always left with “too much” of something, or something that just won’t keep until I finish all of it—but not now, owing to the simple genius of the way “Love Soup” is arranged: by season, and within each season largely by ingredient.
Now I have a third way to put up my annual bounty of parsley (the first two are here): three “bunches” will go into each batch of “Parsley Soup” that Thomas says is like “a rustic leek and potato soup that’s been taken over by a gang of parsley, but in the nicest way.”
A double batch of “Green Soup With Sweet Potatoes and Sage” (top photo, in the bowl on the right) is already in my freezer; a whole section of “green soups” (using leafy greens as a key ingredient) is a particular delight, since I seem to have mastered their growing this year and have more than I thought I could ever otherwise use.
The “Roasted Turnip and Winter Squash Soup” in the video (above) is next on my list; you can see from it how un-fussy and can-do Thomas’s approach is. I’ve already made a vat of lentil soup (top photo, left-hand bowl), one of my standards, but updated with inspiration from “Love Soup.” If you have some measuring cups, a big pot, a ladle and a sharp knife, you’re about to be an expert soup-maker; some really good olive oil and soft goat cheese make the ideal finishing touches, she advises. More than 50 recipes in the 160-recipe book–breads and salads and sides and even sweets–help make soup into a meal, Thomas-style.
I’m counting it as an omen to have an author as successful as Anna Thomas “here” with me while I cook and work—yes, my next book is being brewed in the dining half of my kitchen, at the old Swedish harvest table. I know when I am done and allowed to think about plants again, Thomas’s presence will re-invigorate my vegetable gardening, too; don’t be surprised to find me planting a soup garden come spring.
“Love Soup” is a must companion for everyone with a vegetable garden, or a kitchen (this means everybody). Just ask my sister, Marion–agent Kris sent her a copy, too. Our entire family’s now cooking at the stovetop and keyboard alike. You?