Soup Is Good Food — Especially in February

It’s February, and here in Toronto we’re at the start of what is traditionally the coldest couple of weeks of the year. It’s still dark and grey outside and thoughts of warm summer days are not enough to make us feel better.

While soup won’t cure everything about the winter blues, it is a special kind of comfort food; healthier than the fries and pizza many of us are likely to turn to, and made with love and care by people who want us to feel warm and nourished (even if that’s ourselves). Here are two collections of hearty soup recipes to keep you cozy and well fed until Spring arrives.

Good Housekeeping Soups: 70 Nourishing Recipes

Good Housekeeping Soups: 70 Nourishing Recipes
Susan Westmoreland
Hearst, 2017

In my opinion, Good Housekeeping creates the epitome of a usable, well-tested cookbook. This collection offers a variety of soups and stews that are straight-forward and easy to make. Recipes are clear and concise, and there’s a great selection of feature ingredients to choose from.

There’s a Hearty Fish Chowder, Chicken Noodle Soup, Shrimp and Sausage Gumbo and a section of noodle and bean-based soups that include Miso Soup with Spinach, Thai Coconut Soup, and Vietnamese Noodle. My one complaint is that this collection is not especially vegetarian-friendly, as many of the vegetable and bean soups call for chicken broth. Most vegetarians are experts at tweaking traditional meat-based dishes, and could likely use vegetable stock in its place, but this book might not be good value for money for serious vegetarians.

In terms of usability, recipes are clearly laid out and readable, although there are no metric measurements included.

This is a good collection with enough recipes to get most of us through the harsh winter until spring, but might not suit anybody with dietary restrictions.

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Chowders and Soups; 50 Recipes For the Home Chef by Liz Feltham

Chowders and Soups; 50 Recipes For the Home Chef
Liz Feltham
Nimbus, 2012

So what exactly is the difference between a soup and a chowder? A chowder is a type of soup, but it is usually chunkier and is most often associated with fish and seafood.

In Canada’s Maritime provinces, chowder beats all the other soups and every household has its own recipe for their favourite. In this collection, food writer Liz Feltham compiles 50 recipes for (mostly fish) chowder with dishes that include mackerel, smoked haddock, lobster, and crab. Some of these get pretty specific to the region; most people aren’t going to easily find periwinkles at their local fishmonger, for instance, and periwinkles are a lot of work to prepare. But enough of these dishes just need some good, fresh fish and are accessible enough that most chowderheads will find more than a few recipes to try.

Feltham includes some recipes for other, non-pescetarian chowders, and a few elegant soups like Maple Parsnip or Roasted Garlic and Potato.

With the emphasis on fish and seafood, this is not a vegetarian-friendly book. Published in 2012, the layout is slightly dated, but wait – that’s not a bad thing because the design is clean and elegant and easy to work from – nobody’s trying to use five different fonts and overdo the white space here. There are no metric measurements (odd for a cookbook published in Canada) but since most Canadians still use US measurements when cooking, that’s not a big issue.

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As the cold winter wind blasts snow past my windows, I’ll be flipping through both of these collections to find an array of hearty, cozy soups to get me through February.