Vegetable Soups from Deborah Madison's Kitchen
Deborah Madison, 2006

Deborah Madison is the founder of Greens, a vegetarian restaurant in San Francisco that I have gone to a fair number of times. Pretty much every time I go I have the same experience: I order some soup, I taste the soup, I think, "Jumpin' Jehosophat, that's a tasty soup! This restaurant is awesome!", and then I get my entree and it's just okay. So I've never bothered to buy any of the Greens cookbooks. But when I discovered that Deborah Madison had a new one devoted exclusively to soup, I had to have it.

A while back I wrote about another soup cookbook, A Beautiful Bowl of Soup; it impressed me at first, but subsequent soups were a mixed bag and I must confess that it's been gathering dust for a while. However, I've now made eleven soups from the Madison book and they've ranged from a mild wow to a serious wow. I very much like that most of the recipes I've tried from this book don't call for stock; pretty much all the other soup recipes I've ever read do, which is a problem because I can never seem to keep stock in my freezer. I don't have the cookware to make more than a few cups of stock at a time, and every time I do throw together a batch, it isn't long before I think, "Hey, I have stock! I think I'll make soup!", and then the stock is gone. Madison's recipes are full of carrots and celery and onions so that the soup makes its own stock as it cooks.

Another thing I like, since I am nearly always cooking for myself and can't be bothered to make a multi-course meal, is that Madison's soups tend to be fairly thick. One of my staples is Jack Bishop's pasta e fagioli, which is a delicious light meal; if I were in the mood for something more substantial, though, I might well go for Madison's version, a cup or two of which constitutes a pretty heavy meal all by itself. Of course, this might just be a function of which soups I've chosen so far. I imagine I'll be trying many more, since this book is clearly a winner.

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