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Soups

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This is peasant soup, aka Ribolitta, and is in the Soup chapter of my cookbook, When Bakers Cook. It is pure sunshine and comes with a grandmother's love in each spoonful. This is not just vegetable soup – this is a legend; you will find versions of it all over Italy but certainly on the Internet which shows that we all know a good thing when we see it. In the kitchen, borders just don't count when it comes to good taste. This soup is indescribably heart-warming and flavorful. Don’t forget that heel (or rubbery rind) of that hunk of Parmesan cheese you almost threw out – it is part of makes this soup outstanding. Wherever you are in the world, whether it is summer, spring, winter or fall - this soup will do you proud.

Montreal has a very special feel-good, environmental and community (both global and local) conscious restaurant called Santropol. It is known for its amazing bread and huge sandwiches, fragrant, flavorful soups served by the bowl or the mug, its own roasted coffee, and a pretty outdoor garden that makes sitting in the middle of a urban neighborhood feel like the country. I had this soup there recently and made it at home, within hours, just to get a second bowl…..on the house! This is the sunniest soup you will ever experience. It is a trip to Provence in each delicious spoonful. Serve with hunks of cheese and sheared off chunks of fresh French bread. Santropol serves this in bowls or mugs, and not a one matches (no two mugs alike in the whole restaurant - absolutely charming -feels like home!)

 

Cold weather and inaugurations call for heartwarming soup. Senate Bean Soup is something the entire U.S. Congress has always agreed on and is purportedly served daily, in the Capital Building restaurant for over 100 years (perhaps like most great bean soups, they simply keep adding more water). My version uses a bit of liquid smoke in lieu of the ham hock, which is the traditional, rout and cubed potatoes (instead of mashed), so maybe this could be the start of some discord. Nah. This is great soup.  Wright’s Liquid Smoke is the one we use in the BetterBaking.com test kitchen.  Soak the beans overnight or in the morning and make the soup mid afternoon in time for supper. This is a non-partisan, crowd pleasing soup. Take it from a Canuck.

A business meeting at a delightful outdoor cafe is the inspiration for this soup. My lunch appointment person had this soup (I went with tuna panini). Just from the aroma of the steaming soup in its crockery bowl, I knew I had to recreate it. The spinach is optional and you can also choose to add cumin and coriander (without those spices, this is rustic East European; with them, you get a Middle Eastern flair). What’s nice about this soup is that it is not heavily spiced in one tradition or another but it is a crossroads between gourmet health food cafe and East European. It’s also not too heavy, making a great soup for any season – even summer, alongside quiche or a panini. From (c) When Bakers Cook, Marcy Goldman

 

This soup is also known as "Dahl"and it refers to an Indian version of lentil soup. It is light but soothing, silken with spice, lemon and a dollop of yogurt on top, lemon slice garnish with fresh cilantro. Mop it up with homemade nan.

A hearty pinto bean soup that sticks to your ribs. You can use almost any sort of dried beans for this soup and add 1-2 tablespoons of barley to make it a bit more rustic. When I make this soup without meat, I add a few drops of liquid smoke for flavour.

A rich and satisfying bowl.

This is the Asian chicken soup remedy, good for what ails you and even when nothing does. Especially then – sometimes you just need the tonic. You can vary the add-ins and feel free to make this vegetarian style, or leave out the tofu if it's not your thing. This is only as good as the chicken broth used. Traditionally this does not contain noodles but I often add cellophane or Chinese egg noodles. The sesame oil called for is the toasted, full-flavored type. Smoked Chinese chicken is ideal but any leftover, cooked or roasted chicken breast is fine.

Well, it is or was, on the rainy, cold day when I first created this soup. I first experienced it, actually, as a fresh hot vegetable soup in one of those Asian/everything prepared-food delis that features everything from a salad bar to cold beer. In New York, there are tons of such places. In Montreal, where I live, there is about...one. It is on Sherbrooke Street in Westmount. I had no time but to stop and buy a cup of this soup and was hooked. So the next time I had it - I had replicated it myself. It takes fresh ingredients plus a package of this, a can of that but mostly fresh vegetables. This really is simply one of the best (and fastest ) vegetable soups you will ever have. You can vary the add-ins (pasta or sausage hunks, etc.) but it is something you will make at least once a month. Or your family will just insist. 

I learned recently that my grandmother Goldman was famous for her tomato soup. I have taken liberties with this recipe in order to produce a soup that is spicy and hearty. I'm hooked.
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