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Hmmm. Completed the Panera soup copy. Made a few minor variations like leaving the red pepper flakes out though in the end I added more black pepper (very unlike me) for more flavor since it was extremely bland, even for me. I even left is a little chunking to enhance the taste vs. a true puree.

Thinking back a ways to the time when my parents took us to Paris and on the tour of Europe I now recall having ordered vicyssoise at the Ritz and not being impressed. Hmmm.

Before immersion blender.

Before immersion blender. It looked so good.

I obviously forgot and haven’t had a pureed potato soup since. I guess potato soup is potato soup whatever the name. There’s just not a lot of flavor. I even included a mirepoix at the beginning and a chopped clove of garlic. Nothin’. What a disappointment.

After immersion blending and cream cheese added.

After immersion blending with cream cheese melting. Still looking good.

It spent the night in the refrigerator in hopes the taste would develop. No luck. I thought of dumping a bag of $4 or $5 cheddar in but on further reflection thought rather than dump anymore money into something in an attempt to salvage it, I’d be better off just dumping it out. So down the drain it went. Luckily I didn’t loose much cost-wise since all the ingredients were either on sale, inexpensive or needed to be used up.

One could say it was time wasted, but I like to think of it as a bike with training wheels. Not a lot was lost when I “fell”. It was a lesson learned and a taste memory recalled, so not a total loss. If you happen to like potato soup here is the link. Personally I’m deleting it from my bookmarked recipes.

I do have to say this is the first time I used my brand spanking new immersion blender. What a fabulous tool in the kitchen. In the past I often put off making soups that needed to be put in the blender in batches (what a mess) so this was a stunning discovery and acquisition. Yes. I said stunning.

Since I’m trying to be very frugal, it had languished on my Amazon wishlist for over a year until I got enough reward points at my bank to redeem for $50 and treated myself. Also purchased an OXO sea salt grinder since mine had broken (once you start using Celtic sea salt, you won’t want to go back to Morton’s). Ordered three DVD’s including “My Brilliant Career” which I have searched for quite a long time.

My two favorite soup books.

My two favorite soup books. Back to the drawing board or rather cookbook….

Anyways, back to soup. This all led me to open the cupboard where a few of my favorite cook books are and pull out the two I like best for soups. One little “fail” won’t stop me. 🙂 Onward and upward as I don’t know who said.

If you like to make soups, these two books are the best IMHO. I’ve had them FOREVER. I bought “The Soup Book” by Louis P. DeGouy with over 800 recipes first, ages ago. It was written in 1949 and my copy was published by Dover Books. I like it because of some of the obscure brews included (Eel Chowder I, Great South Bay method anyone? or perhaps Eel Chowder II, Netherlands? or Lima Bean Gumbo Soup Georgia?) which expands one’s understanding of history, cultures and the way events shaped recipes as well as people’s lives.

The other book, “The Complete Book of Soups and Stews” by Bernard Clayton, Jr. was published in 1984. While Clayton’s book has a few line drawings, neither have any photographs save their cover but I’ve never missed them, that’s how good the recipes are. This book notes whatever culture they came from…again the history of food. BTW, the French Red Pepper soup is to die for and you’ll find five different versions of minestrone.

Neither book is necessarily for beginners though DeGouy’s was my first foray into soup-dom and I had no trouble. In my book, if you can make a decent meatloaf, spaghetti made with homemade sauce and not ketchup (cringe…) and hot dogs are an item served at picnics not dinner, you’re no longer a beginner.

I still remember a friend mentioning that during a family visit to her in-laws, the mother made her famous Italian dinner…diced hot dogs and Velveeta (she didn’t see the point in buying more than one kind of cheese my friend said), put in a pot with ketchup, heated and poured over spaghetti. Double cringe.

Clayton’s recipes involve more ingredients and are very detailed which may be good for a beginner, but could appear daunting. If you click on either Amazon link, and then select “Look Inside” you’ll get a pretty good idea of what you’ll find.

Actually, in looking at Clayton’s 1984 version and then the revised 1987 version on Amazon, I’d opt for the latter were I buying today. It has a lot of discussion at the beginning of pot differences, sizes, other equipment and techniquess which would be helpful for anyone, novice or pro.

In retrospect any of the soups made from these tomes easily surpasses many available on the internet, I think in part due to the testing standards in place when they were written. Clayton’s even mentions ratios in some of the recipes, reminding me of the recent book “Ratio”.

Perhaps it’s also because I’ve never had a FAIL from any of the recipes contained within, that makes them my favorites and that’s saying a lot. The books are yellowed, dog-earred with notes in the margins and post-its throughout. 🙂

One further note, the Soup Book recipes are written in paragraph form vs. a list of ingredients and then directions as in the other book. Frankly either way works for me. I’ve purchased other soup books over the years but none has ever come close to these two.

Not trying to sell you a cookbook, just thought I’d put my two cents out there in case anyone’s interested. Hope you’re staying warm or cool depending on what side of the earth you reside on and thanks for visiting, it means a lot to me!

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