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Most people view the end of Winter as the end of Soup Season, but it does not have to be the case. Though it is technically Spring, it is still cool outside and a warm meal is appreciated. What is not always welcome is a heavy meal. Soups come in a variety of textures and consistencies, from a heavier Beef Bourgiugnon to a lighter Red Lentil Dal. Both can be eaten alone or with a side of bread. When temperatures warm up, cold or cool soup can be eaten.
I recently was given the opportunity to review a new cookbook – The Soup Club: Feed Your Friends, Feed Your Family, Feed Yourself. To call it a cookbook would not be completely honest, as it is more than that. In The Soup Club a group of 4 friends (Courtney Allison, Tina Carr, Caroline Laskow, and Julie Peacock) share how they share meal making responsibility with each other once a week. Not only do they share the practical steps of making a large meal and transporting it, but also they gathered several of their favorite meals.
“… four busy moms share not only their formula for starting a soup club–which gives you at least three meals every month when you don’t have to worry about dinner–but also 150 fantastic recipes for soups and sides and storing tips for stretching those meals across the week.”
Meal sharing is something a few of my friends have mentioned but none of us had ever done. One of the things I was concerned about was how to deliver the meals, as well as what to do if there were differences in dietary preferences or restrictions. I appreciated the part where they talked about how one of their friends is a vegetarian (page 20) and how the group handles it. Actually, the whole of Part 1 is How To Be A Soup Club. The topics covered vary from the amount of soup to make to how to actually deliver the soup and when. I appreciated this layout, as this is a major part of making the club run smoothly.
Flexibility and a willingness to try something new seems to be a key ingredient for something like this to work. I am assuming that anyone who is interested in meal sharing with their friend, though, already contains these traits. With 150 soup ideas to choose from, I am pretty sure you can find something that will work for everyone.
“The Soup Club began when four friends (who, between them, have four husbands and ten hungry kids and several jobs) realized that they didn’t actually have to cook at home every night to take pleasure in a home-cooked meal. They simply had to join forces and share meals, even if they weren’t actually eating them together. Caroline, Courtney, Julie, and Tina happen to be neighbors, but a soup club is for anyone: colleagues, a group of workout buddies, a book club. All you need are a few people who simply want to have more home-cooked food in their lives.”
Parts 2 & 3 cover All The Soups and Food For Fingers & Forks. Every recipe in these two parts begins with a short paragraph from the lady sharing the recipe. Some tell the history behind the recipe, while others give tips and ways it can be adjusted. Each page contains a tip or comment about the recipe, the ingredients, or a story behind the food being made.
Not all the recipes contained are soups, as there are toppings and sides that accompany soups or need to be added after delivery. These are the kind of recipes you will find in Part 3 of The Soup Club.
While looking through the recipes, I noticed some contained ingredients I had never heard of before. The comments accompanying each recipe gave me some ideas of where to start looking. This is where is it a good thing that Big Town is within driving distance. If Small Town’s grocery store was the only option, I am not sure if many of these recipes would be feasible. You would likely have to look at some online grocery sites to see if they were available to be shipped to you.
Upon receiving The Soup Club in the mail, I marked a few recipes to try. To help narrow down the search, I tried to choose ones from various parts of the book. My husband nixed a few of the choices, but that left me with a lot of choices from which to plan.
If I had read the introduction before making the first recipe I would have found out that these friend already accounted for the fact that sometimes a recipe does not produce as much as it should. They did not want to put you in the potision of running short on a recipe. However, I did not do that. So, after reducing the meal to what I thought would make enough for our supper and an extra meal for the freezer, I actually had 2.5 – 3 meals for us. :) I do appreciate the fact that they make the servings more appropriately sized than many recipes I come across.
“Recipes include quick and easies, classics, twist on favorites, and dozens of flavor-rich new crowd pleasers:
* Carrot Coconut and Chicken Chili,
* Senegalese Peanut Soup
* Faux Ramen
* Red Lentil Curry Soup
* Potato Cheddar Soup
* Sun Dried Tomato Soup
* Jeweled Rice Salad
* Cheddar Cornbread,
* Summer Corn Hash
* Soy Simmered Chicken Wings”
In the end I thought this was a great book to help others along on their journey to food and meal sharing. Whether it be for a group exchanging meals among their families, for someone who is sick, or a group gathering, I loved the tips and larger recipes for those times that involve more people than your average family. I would recommend it as a good starting spot for those looking to begin a meal sharing group.
Looking through the recipes, one thing struck me – most of these meals are ones that my extended family would give a wide girth rather than trying. See, I grew up in an area where trying new things means adding something beyond salt and pepper to your food. My husband can guess within a dish as to what will be served at our family holiday gatherings. Do not misunderstand, I love some of the dishes and the history that goes with them. There are others I love because they are “old fashioned”, like Burgoo. My husband still talks of his first taste of that dish and never not with kind words. Of course, he is the one who eats Marmite on toast, so I only take his opinions on food so far. :) I did share with him that one of the recipes in this book contains Marmite. His ears pricked up at that comment.
My point in mentioning this is that this is not a recipe book for everyone, especially my Grandmother and most aunts. I am not sure exactly how I came out of this group with a willingness to try and experiment with new foods.For those who may not be looking to start a meal sharing group but are wanting it mainly as a recipe book, this is a great collection of recipes that may give you a new take on a recipe. (We loved the addition of dried tomatoes to the tomato soup recipe in Sun Dried Tomato Soup.)
If you want to check out more about The Soup Club: Feed Your Friends, Feed Your Family, Feed Yourself online, here is their website. For now, I am going to do some more browsing to add meals to next week’s menu.
*quotes taken from the summary found in The Soup Club Cookbook.
- Danish (brought by guests) and eggs
- Chocolate Chip Monkey Muffins (made into a loaf)
- Green Tomato Bread
- Eggs, salami and cheese sandwiches
- Pancakes, bacon
- Meatballs, gravy, rice, peas
- Tangy Black Bean Soup
- Red Lentil Dal
- Beef Bourguingnon, bread
- Pitch-in/Potluck at church
- Chicken Enchiladas, rice
- Minute Steak, rice, beets
- Falafel, rice, side salad
- Bree’s Lentil-Tomato Soup
- Veggie and Cilantro Hummus Sandwiches, chips
With family in visiting, my husband still gone and the potential for attachment behaviors showing up (after a week of my husband being gone for a week) I decided to not go to church in Big Town. This also meant we did not go out to eat at our normal location. After my family left, the kids were all set for an t.v. marathon. I agreed and so we all proceeded to decompress with very low energy activities. That included not cooking lunch. Shake anyone?
This week’s menu has more than sandwiches, shakes and spaghetti on it, which is what last week ended up consisting of for the most part. Last week also involved a very messy project that I do not plan on repeating anytime soon. Let’s just say that all sanding will be taking place outside from now on, not in the kitchen. Besides milk and eggs, any grocery shopping I did last week was to take advantage of meat and clearance section sales. I will need to pick up a few things like lettuce and milk this week, otherwise I have everything. I enjoy weeks like this.
For the month, I will be under my goal for my monthly spending in this area! It may be only under by $5 or so, but it is under rather than $100 over. :)
I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.