The Soup Club Cookbook — Off the Shelf

Take the chill out of the dead of winter with The Soup Club Cookbook, a collection of big-batch soup recipes that will spice up your weekly dinner routine.

Now that the holiday season is over and life is falling into its new 2015 routine, it’s time to get back to your weeknight cooking routine. Nothing hits the spot in the dead of winter quite like a piping-hot soup, and nothing makes keeping your freezer stocked with delicious soup dishes easier than The Soup Club Cookbook. It was written by Courtney Allison, Tina Carr, Caroline Laskow and Julie Peacock, four friends who wanted to find a way to eat more soup and cook less. The book features big-batch recipes of all your favorite soups, from Winter Minestrone (recipe after the link for you to try at home) and Chicken Noodle to Faux Ramen and Potato Leek Soup. They have hearty soups (The Dudes’ Chili is a winner) and cold soups for summer (including Green Gazpacho and Tomato Gazpacho, both of which are exactly what summer should taste like). The book goes beyond just soup, though. You'll also find salads, dressings, sides, snacks and bigger dishes, all designed to complement and round out soup meals.

The Soup Club Cookbook is designed to help you and a couple of friends start a soup club. The idea is simple: Four friends each commit to making a large batch of soup one week out of the month. The recipes in the book are all designed to feed four families, but they are easily divided in half, making the book a treasure trove of soup recipes either way. The idea with the soup club is that you get a month’s worth of soup for one week’s worth of cooking effort (plus you’ll keep up with your food-loving friends!).

Each recipe includes seasonal and flavor variations, delivery tips, and garnish and serving suggestions. The book is full of hilarious anecdotes, the four authors’ friendships with one another shining through their personal stories and lists of tips and suggestions. The book is a wealth of information, and it has all of the instructions you need to found your own soup club, from process information to supplies you’ll want on hand. Some of the best tips in the book include:

  • All soup recipes in the book are written to yield 8 quarts of soup. But it’s really more like 8 1/2 to 9 quarts of soup because they don’t want you to be in the slightly heartbreaking position of not having enough soup to easily feed your friends, feed your family and feed yourself.
  • Maybe you’re only cooking for half of a lot of soup. All of the recipes can be halved if you’re looking to make a 4-quart batch.
  • Bulking up a soup is possible, so add that leftover carrot, stray potato or half onion, and taste as you go. As caretakers of orphaned produce, we are inclusive. Soup is forgiving.
  • There are tricks to undoing unfortunate episodes of oversalting. Among them, you can add sliced potato to the soup, simmer, then remove. Potatoes are salt sponges.
  • Ask if your local grocery store will give you some Parmesan rinds. If they sell their own grated cheese in the deli section, chances are they've got cheese rinds to spare

Whether you want to start a full-fledged soup club or you just want to get some new, delicious soups into the dinner rotation for your house, The Soup Club Cookbook is a great book to have in any kitchen library. The Soup Club Cookbook goes on sale Jan. 13. You can preorder your copy here.

Winter Minestrone
Yield: About 8 quarts

This is a sort of “clean-out-the-fridge” soup, as any variety of vegetables will do. The soup’s rich flavor comes from tossing your old Parmesan rinds into the soup as it cooks, so DO NOT skip this step. Also the addition of the garlicky pesto brightens up the soup and even gives it a little kick. If you don’t have time to make the pesto, toss in the fresh herbs at the end and swirl in a touch of garlic paste. All three of my kids shove big spoonfuls of this seasonal soup into their mouths. Truly, the highest of compliments.

1/4 cup olive oil
2 medium yellow onions, chopped
8 garlic cloves, minced

3 bunches mixed greens (Swiss chard, mustard greens and/or kale) finely chopped with stalk ends trimmed (about 15 cups)

1 tablespoon salt, plus more to taste
Three 15.5-ounce cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
Three 28-ounce cans diced tomatoes, with their juice
3 quarts vegetable broth or chicken broth, plus more as needed
8 inches Parmesan rind
1 pound carrots, diced
1 medium butternut squash, about 3 pounds, peeled, seeded and diced
3 medium zucchini, diced
3 medium yellow summer squash, diced
Freshly ground black pepper
4 demi-baguettes

2 cups chopped fresh herbs (flat leaf parsley and oregano, or whatever is in season and easy to find)

2 cups pesto (recipe follows)
1/2 pound Parmigiano-Reggiano or Romano cheese

Heat the oil in the stockpot and add the onions, garlic and mixed greens. Sprinkle with the salt and saute until the vegetables are slightly wilted, about 10 minutes.

Add the beans, tomatoes, broth, Parmesan rinds, carrots and butternut squash, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, until the vegetables are tender but still firm.

Add the zucchini and yellow squash and cook, loosely covered, for 10 minutes, or until all vegetables are tender. If the soup is too thick, add more broth or water.

Before ladling the soup into jars, fish out and discard the gooey cheese rinds. Season with salt and pepper.

For delivery: Include one demi-baguette and one-quarter of the herbs, pesto and cheese.

To serve: Reheat the soup and stir in a few pinches of the fresh herbs. Add a dollop of pesto and grate the cheese over the top. Serve with a warm baguette.

Pesto
Yield: About 2 cups

8 cups fresh herbs and/or greens (1 to 2 large bunches herbs and your choice of greens like kale, arugula, mustard greens, dandelion greens) loosely packed, to fill the bowl of a food processor

Freshly squeezed lemon juice (start with one lemon)
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1 garlic clove

1/2 cup grated cheese (a combination of Parmigiano-Reggiano and Pecorino, or straight Parmigiano-Reggiano)

1/2 to 1 cup pine nuts (lightly toasted or not; go rogue)
1/2 cup olive oil, plus more as needed

Put the herbs/greens, lemon juice, salt, garlic, cheese and nuts in a food processor. Pulse the processor a few times to get everything a little mashed down, then run the processor and drizzle in the oil, starting with about 1/2 cup. Stop, scrape down the sides with a spatula, and taste. Salt? Check. Lemon juice? Check. Consistency? Check.

Recipe reprinted with permission from The Soup Club Cookbook © 2015 by Courtney Allison, Tina Carr, Caroline Laskow and Julie Peacock, Clarkson Potter Books.

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