COOKBOOK REVIEW The Soup Sisters Cookbook

Cookbook review written & photographed by

The Soup Sisters Cookbook is available for purchase through our online store or at local bookstores. For more information on this book please visit Appetite by Random House

Immediately upon receiving this book I was struck by the cover; the warm photograph inviting me to delve further into its pages. This heartwarming tone is carried throughout the entire book, and with over 100 contributors (including volunteers as well as over 50 celebrity chefs and food professionals) it is a true embodiment of the spirit of community behind this organization.

The Soup Sisters Cookbook (published by Appetite by Random House, $22.95 CDN/USD) is a compilation of the project’s favourite recipes edited by Sharon Hapton and Calgary-based cookbook author Pierre Lamielle. Hapton is the founder of Soup Sisters and Broth Brothers, a non-profit charitable social enterprise dedicated to providing comfort to women, children and youth through the making, sharing and donating of soup. Her belief in soup as a nurturing and nourishing gift for those in crisis has led to over 60,000 containers of soup delivered to women’s shelters across Canada. Soup Sisters is now in 10 cities across the country and makes approximately 8,000 bowls of soup per month.

If the story behind this inspiring organization doesn’t make you fall in love with this cookbook, the results will quickly make you a fan. Easy-to-follow recipes are arranged by season for your convenience, and a number of helpful tips and techniques for making and storing soups are included. (Did you know that if you stir chilling soup in the same direction it cools faster? Or that when freezing soup you need to leave out cream and pasta ingredients?)

Now you might be wondering if we really need another cookbook dedicated to soup. As far as this book is concerned the answer is YES. I am a self-confessed soup avoider and am proud to say that after rigorously testing this book I have been making a batch of soup each week and been loving every bowlful.

A portion of the proceeds from this book will be used to support the ongoing work of Soup Sisters. For people wanting to get involved with Soup Sisters, please visit their website for more information and opportunities in your area. 

Keith’s Turkey

RATING: 4.5 out of 5 (great way to use leftover turkey)

This was the first recipe I tested from The Soup Sisters Cookbook, and since I ended up making the soup right after hosting my family for Canadian Thanksgiving I just so happened to have a pot of turkey stock hanging out in my fridge with nothing to do. Serendipity. So I whipped up this soup on a weeknight (took less than an hour) and had dinner on the table in no time. Chopped carrots, celery, and parsnips are added to the broth along with leftover turkey meat, pot barley, and bay leaves for flavouring.

The only change I made to this recipe was to sauté the vegetables in a pan prior to adding them to the soup pot. I find that this extra step really imparts a nice roasted flavour to the goodies in the soup, and helps prevent the veggies from becoming mushy.

THE RESULTS: Initially I thought this was going to be your typical turkey soup, but the addition of barley really kicked things up a notch! I’ve previously used noodles and rice as the carb in my poultry soups, but adding barley is a genius move. The subtle chewy bite of the grain gives this soup an incredible texture. It reminded me how much I love barley, and I will definitely be going this route in terms of choice of carb for future chicken or turkey soups. Speaking of chicken…I must confess this year we actually didn’t have any leftover turkey (gasp!) so I picked up a rotisserie chicken and simply added the meat into the soup. It tasted great! And the parsnips added a nice creaminess into the mix.

Overall this is a well thought out recipe with great results. Just be sure to sauté those veggies first…trust me! Definitely worth the additional effort.


Roasted Corn & Red Pepper Chowder with Chorizo

RATING: 5 out of 5 (full of exciting flavours)

This recipe immediately appealed to my palate while perusing the listed ingredients. Flavour! Flavour! Flavour! Wanting something bright and uplifting to chase away the November doldrums, I turned to this chowder for a little help.

First, red peppers and fresh corn kernels are roasted in the oven with some olive oil until toasted and slightly charred. This mixture is later added to sautéed onion and dry-cured chorizo, potatoes, carrot, celery and jalapeño. Chili powder, coriander and cumin are thrown in along with chicken stock (vegetable stock would also work), a can of creamed corn, heavy cream, and lime juice.

Are you salivating yet? Because you should be. The smells wafting from the pot were intoxicating and I couldn’t wait to indulge my taste buds.

THE RESULTS: Once the soup has simmered for approximately 35 minutes and the veggies are tender, fresh cilantro and diced avocado top this gorgeous soup. When ladled into a bowl it looks absolutely stunning with the variety of colours, a guaranteed wow factor for your guests.

I loved the texture of this soup, its thick and chunky consistency very satisfying. The creaminess of the chowder was lightened by the brightness from the citrus, the roasted vegetables lending the soup a lovely sweetness that kept me coming back for more. I highly recommend including the avocado as it really completes the flavour experience of this dish. The only change I would make next time would be to sauté the potatoes along with the onion and chorizo in order to crisp them up. I found they were rather non descript and would have loved more of a charred texture.

I enjoyed the differing consistency of corn, with the creamed corn adding a lovely silkiness to the soup while the roasted kernels gave it an element of chewiness. Tasting the difference between the two types of corn added depth to this dish.

Overall, this is a fantastic recipe and the leftovers are equally good the next day.


Roasted Heirloom Tomato

RATING: 4 out of 5 (a true classic)

Despite my past predisposition to avoid soup at all cost, I have always held a soft spot for tomato soup. Because of this lifelong affinity, I had already planned on reviewing a tomato soup but when I saw the front cover of this book (photograph of Roasted Heirloom Tomato soup) I was even more inspired to give it a try. The image of hands cradling a bowl of rich looking tomato soup is hard to resist. All that was missing was an ooey gooey grilled cheese sandwich!

The fact that the tomatoes are first roasted in the oven (along with onion and garlic) really imparts them with a lovely roasted quality that can’t be beat. Tossing in basil, sage, oregano, red chili flakes and a splash of balsamic vinegar had me salivating at the expected flavour punch! The soup is puréed until smooth with either chicken or vegetable stock being added until the desire consistency is achieved. I have to admit that I was a little overzealous with the amount of stock that ended up in my pot. Next time I would definitely back off on the amount added in order to let the tomatoes shine more.

THE RESULTS: Along with the suggested dusting of freshly grated Parmesan cheese, I threw in a couple of extra croutons leftover from the accompanying Caesars salad that added a nice crunch.

This recipe is included in The Soups of Summer section, and while I was able to get my hands on some decent local heirloom tomatoes I think the overall quality of the soup would be much better when tomatoes are at their peak.

There was a level of richness to this soup that was missing for me, and I have to admit to being slightly disappointed in the subtleness of flavour given all of the powerhouse ingredients called for in the recipe. That being said, I did enjoy this soup and will definitely be making it again in the summer. I think the key here is to really taste as you go along, doubling up on ingredients here and there as you see fit.

To read an interview with Soup Sister’s Sharon Hapton, please click here