COOKBOOK REVIEW Soup: A Kosher Collection

By Pam Reiss

Soup: A Kosher Collection is available for purchase through our online store or at local bookstores. For more information on this book please visit Whitecap Books. 


Review written & photographed by Helena McMurdo

Winnipeg based Pam Reiss holds a bachelor’s degree in hotel and restaurant management and works in her family business, Desserts Plus (kosher catering company and specialty food store). Her interest in food and recipe development led to her first cookbook entitled Soup: A Kosher Collection, which was originally published in 2004. The second edition (released by Whitecap Books, $24.95 CDN) came out in the fall of last year and contains an additional 20 recipes, full colour photos and nutritional information for each recipe.

As the name suggests, this book is a collection of kosher soup recipes (150 in total) and is organized into different sections that include Parve (vegetarian), dairy, fish, meat, as well as fruit and dessert soups. The recipes are simple and comforting and feature flavours from around the world. Whether or not you follow a kosher diet, the recipes are appealing to anyone who loves soup.

If you like to keep an eye on health, the nutritional breakdowns for each recipe are a handy feature. I also really appreciated the author’s notes stipulating whether a soup is suitable for freezing.

However, what struck me the most about this book is the variety of recipes offered. This is the kind of cookbook that will have you stop every couple of pages in order to bookmark something to make at a later date.

A gem of a cookbook for soup lovers!

Tortilla Soup

RATING: 4 out of 5 (Mexico in a bowl)

THE TEST: Tortilla Soup is one of my favourites and each time I see it on a menu I remember the first time I had it in Mexico City, many, many years ago. I’ve always wanted to find a recipe to make myself, so when I was choosing soups to test from this book I knew right away I’d be trying this one. The method was very simple and for the most part, the ingredients were things I’d usually have on hand.

A quick sauté of red onion and jalapeño, is followed by the addition salt, pepper and cumin. Stock and diced tomatoes are added and simmered for 15 minutes.  While the soup is simmering, the tortilla garnish is made by coating two whole wheat tortillas with vegetable spray, cutting them in thin strips and baking them on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Once the soup has been simmering for 15 minutes, diced chicken and tinned black beans are added and when the chicken is cooked through, frozen corn is thrown in the mix and simmered further until the corn is warmed through. The soup is finished with lime juice, some chopped cilantro, a dash of hot sauce and the tortilla strips.

THE RESULTS: The day I made this soup Vancouver had been hit with some unexpected snow! As far from Mexico as I felt, this was the perfect way to warm myself up.

The balance between the sour lime and hot sauce really makes this dish. Although this wasn’t the thick more beany soup I usually associate with tortilla soup, I found it to be quite tasty. I did miss the textural element that tortillas made from corn would have provided. I felt like the wheat tortilla strips softened up pretty quickly in the soup. But this small complaint can easily be fixed if it bothers you. I’ll make this recipe again, I’m sure. 


Parsnip Leek Soup

RATING: 4 out of 5 (comforting & delicious)

THE TEST: I love parsnips. And the method in this soup – of roasting the parsnips first in the oven, to bring out the sugars – seemed interesting to me.

As with all of the recipes in this book, the method is a simple one. The leeks are sautéed in olive oil and then the roasted parsnips, vegetable stock and a diced potato are added and left to simmer for 15 minutes.

The soup is then pureed in the blender and finished by adding some whipping cream. Easy peasy!

The total cooking and prep time for this recipe was about two hours, taking into account all of the cooling and pureeing.

THE RESULTS: This is a really warm and delicious soup.  The parsnips are really sweet and I found the soup quite filling. My only complaint was that the texture was a bit thick for my taste but of course this can be remedied easily by adding a bit more water. A great soup for a cold winter’s day.


Asian Meatball Soup

RATING:  3 out of 5 (great idea, some tweaking please)

TEST:  I was looking for something hearty and meal-like, so I thought this soup with meatballs and rice would be the filling and the flavours of ginger, garlic, soy and sesame sounded great to me.

I started out by making the small meatballs with some lean ground beef, ginger, garlic, soy sauce, sesame oil, green onion, salt and pepper and an egg white to bind. They were really simple to roll together. The mixture was quite wet and the aromatics smelled great.

The meatballs are par-baked in the oven for 10 minutes and while this was happening, I brought some chicken stock and water to a boil for the soup base.  I used an organic low sodium chicken stock from a carton. The author does not insist on homemade stock which definitely makes things easier if you feel like making soup at the spur of the moment.

Once baked and drained, the meatballs were added to the now simmering stock along with some soy sauce and rice.

After about ten minutes sliced carrot and celery were added and cooked for a further 10 minutes. This recipe was really easy to assemble and once the ingredients were in hand, I found the whole thing came together quite quickly.

RESULTS: The soup looked fantastic and I couldn’t wait to dive right in and give it a taste! The meatballs themselves were delicious with the flavours of ginger and green onion shining through. I found the broth to be a little bland and could have used more seasoning, probably because I used the low sodium chicken stock. I also found myself longing for a little bit of heat.

I think I will make this recipe again, but I would want to tweak the flavours a bit, perhaps adding some fresh chilies. I cooked this soup exactly to time but felt the vegetables and rice were both a bit mushy, so would recommend reducing the cooking time a bit.

With all my complaints, I love the idea of this soup and the flavours and ingredients certainly inspired me. The author suggests adding additional vegetables as a variation and I think this would be great way to have this soup.