Tuesday, October 1, 2013

REVIEW: The Soup & Bread Cookbook: More Than 100 Seasonal Pairings by Beatrice Ojakangas


From one of America’s most prolific and beloved cookbook authors comes a compendium of unique recipes for a universally appealing subject. This broad collection of soups, broths, bisques, and chowders ranges from summer coolers and hearty, warming stews to smooth, creamy soups and fiery broths. Marked by their straightforward preparation, accessible ingredients, and original pairings, Ojakangas’s collection not only taps into her Scandinavian heritage but into flavorful soups from around the world—there’s Swedish Pea, Morroccan Vegetable, Borscht, and Chicken and Dumplings to Feijoida, French Onion, Italian Meatball, and Asian Lemon Ginger.The bread recipes alone could fill a cookbook. Loaves, buns, sticks, and flatbreads are here, along with pretzels, pitas, toasts and focaccias. Organized by season and complemented by evocative photographs, The Soup & Bread Cookbook is an ideal volume for anyone who takes comfort in the essential pleasures of a bowl of soup and warm bread.

Hardcover, 320 pages
Expected publication: October 8th 2013 by Rodale Books
ISBN  1609613627 (ISBN13: 9781609613624)

About the Author

Beatrice Ojakangas has a rich background in Scandinavian cuisines, traditions and history. She and her husband, Richard, are second-generation Americans. All of their grandparents came from Finland. As they visited in Finland, Beatrice, known as "Peaches" to her friends and relatives, became interested in the foods and traditions of all Scandinavian countries. She has a special knack for making friends, and now has many acquaintances throughout Scandinavia. She is known for the sumptuous smorgasbords she prepares and serves in her home. If you visit in northern Minnesota, you may find her teaching cooking classes in her large, well-stocked kitchen. Or she may be assisting with Scandinavian heritage-appreciation camps. Beatrice has authored a Finnish cookbook and numerous articles on Finnish and Scandinavian cooking.

My Thoughts

This book is a compilation of soup and bread recipes paired up as simple meals. The book is divided up by the seasons: Springtime, Summertime, Autumn and Winter. 

The book begins with the basics: Stocks, broths and "basic breads". Various tips for making broths, and tips for bread. It covers various seasonings and toppings for bread, how the different additions affect the bread flavor and consistency. Then it provides basic recipes for Fresh Baguette, A Basic Vegetable Soup, and Basic Home-Bakes Bread. This is the basis for what the rest of the book builds on. 

Spring brings pairings like Spicy Mango Melon Soup & Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins. Summer presents Lemon, Corn and Shrimp Broth & Asian-Style Flatbread. Enjoy Yam and Sweet Onion Soup & Buttermilk Corn Muffins in the Autumn, and snuggle under a blanket in Winter with some Onion Barley Soup with Mushrooms & Honey Bran Muffins.

Since I'm a pescatarian and only eat fish, seafood and veggies, I decided to make the recipe for Walleye Chowder, substituting tilapia for the walleye, and omitting the bacon. It was paired with Parmesan Garlic Bread.

Walleye Chowder
Makes 6-8 servings

8 slices bacon, diced (I omitted this)
1 large sweet onion, chopped
1 rib celery, chopped
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
8 medium boiling potatoes, peeled and diced (I used Yukon Gold)
4 cups chicken stock (homemade or store-bought) or water (I used homemade vegetable broth)
1/2 cup white wine
2 cups whole or 2% milk (I used a mixture of heavy cream, fat-free milk and almond milk)
1 green pepper, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
2 cups frozen corn kernels (I used the corn off 2 fresh ears of corn)
1-2 tsp salt, to taste
Dash of cayenne pepper
2 pounds fresh or thawed frozen walleye pike fillets or tilapia, cut into about 1" cubes

Cook the bacon in a heavy 5-quart soup pot over medium heat until crisp. Drain all but 1 tablespoon of the bacon fat and set the bacon aside on a paper towel-lined plate.

Add the onion and celery to the pan and cook, stirring, until the vegetables are softened, 3 to 5 minutes. Sprinkle the flour over the mixture and add the potatoes, broth and wine. Simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes.

Stir in the milk, bell peppers, and corn. Simmer until vegetables are crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Add the salt, cayenne and fish. Simmer just until the fish is cooked through, no more than 3 minutes.

Ladle the soup into bowls, sprinkle with the bacon, and serve.

Parmesan Garlic Bread

Makes 6-8 servings

2 sticks (8 oz) butter, at room temperature
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh parsley or 2 tbs dried
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 loaf (about 1 1/2 pounds) Italian bread or baguette, homemade or store-bought, cut into 1" thick slices

In a small bowl, mash together the butter, garlic, parsley, and Parmesan until well blended.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spread both sides of each slice of bread generously with the butter and fit the slices together to reshape the loaf. Wrap in foil and bake for 15 minutes. Serve warm.

The soup was good, but it took much longer to cook than the recipe indicated. The potatoes that I used didn't want to cook. They were in small 1/2" cubes, and I brought the soup to a boil for a couple of minutes before simmering, and raised the temp again later when it seemed the potatoes weren't going to cook. I wound up cooking them for probably 25 minutes or better (rather than the 15 minutes indicated), and then I cooked the veggies and fish much longer than it said. Yet everything was still just slightly crisp and firm. The potatoes were fork tender, but not soft and near breaking down, as you prefer them. So next time I would cook the soup much longer and harder than I did. I would put the veggies in sooner next time, and perhaps before the fish and milk. (Of course, my broth came from the freezer and was still half-frozen. So I'm sure that slowed down the cooking process significantly.)

The bread was full of flavor, and my brother loved it. It isn't exactly healthful though! 

My final word: I love the idea of this book. I'm a big fan of soup and bread for dinner or lunch! There is a great variety of soups and breads to be found, and the book abounds with beautiful color photos. I also love the way that it is divided by seasons. That makes it so simple to pick something for dinner! This is a book I plan to purchase after it is released in October!

Pre-Order Now: 

Barnes and Noble

My Rating:


I received a copy of this book to review through Netgalley, in exchange for my honest opinion. I was not financially compensated in any way, and the opinions expressed are my own and based on my observations while reading this novel.

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