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Soup: A Way of Life Hardcover – November 1, 1998


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Artisan (November 1, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1579651259
  • ISBN-13: 978-1579651251
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 1.3 x 10.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #109,212 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Barbara Kafka, author of such important and popular books as Roasting: A Simple Art, Party Food, and Microwave Gourmet, doesn't just speak with the voice of authority when she addresses anything that might have to do with food, she speaks with the voice of the woman who invented fire. It's right there, that voice, deep in her soul. And it calls out loud and clear in page after page of what has to be one of her best books ever.

Soup is the blood in Barbara Kafka's veins. "When I am tired and want comfort," she writes, "or when I want to share happiness, or just when I want something full of flavor, my first desire is soup." It is through soup that Kafka embraces the generations of her family, her husband's family, the families of her children's spouses. It is through soup that Kafka embraces the world. "Every culture has its soups and the soups may be said to represent them."

The book begins with a brief overview of technique ("How to Boil Water"), then drops right into a section she calls "Family Soups." Here are the soups Kafka identifies with her grandmother and mother (Chicken Soup and Split-Pea Soup, respectively), her husband (Winter Duck Soup), her own youth (Gazpacho), her adult nature (Veal Soup with Fennel), as well as soups linked to other members of her family. It's as personal as looking through the Kafka family photo album with the author at your side.

From that base, Ms. Kafka moves on to the world of soups, be they of a vegetable nature, or those that rely on various birds or meats or seafoods. She winds down with stocks, noodles, dumplings, sauces, and the like.

It's a masterful production: simple, clear, uncluttered, direct, and thorough. It's a book that opens the senses to the world much as the steam rising off a bowl of lovingly made soup. --Schuyler Ingle

From Publishers Weekly

Kafka (Roasting: A Simple Art; The James Beard Celebration Cookbook, ed.) is known for her strong opinions and thorough probing of her subjects, and this encyclopedia of soup lore and nearly 300 recipes follows that pattern. The recipes are terrific. Who could argue with hearty Winter Duck Soup, refreshing Simple Celery Soup, festive Tortilla Soup, elegant Cold Pea and Mint Puree with Shrimp or a Spicy Peanut Butter Soup that can be served hot or cold? Meal-in-a-pot soups such as Turkey Soup Meal with Swiss Chard are particularly promising. The organization, however, is eclectic and prevents the book from being a fully functional reference work. Kafka starts off with soups that have been important to her family members and then divides them roughly by ingredients (e.g., poultry, fish, vegetables). But since most soup recipes blur these boundaries, the divisions are confusing. Sour Cherry Soup ends up stuck in a chapter on vegetable soups (subdivided into hot and cold), and Japanese Shabu Shabu lands in the meat chapter, although it contains plenty of vegetables. A section on stocks features five different chicken stocks alone, including Jean-Georges Vongerichten's Chicken Stock, which is recommended for only one recipe. The chapter on noodles, dumplings and other additions to soup is wonderful, and Kafka's humor is enjoyably sly (a segment on using nonreactive cookware is labeled "Pot and Acid"). With this much choice to page through, ranging from Garlic Broth to Stewed Eels Comacchio Style, readers will most often agree that, in this case, the path to the treasure is also the treasure. 60,000 first printing; $100,000 ad/promo; BOMC/ Good Cook main selection; 10-city author tour.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

I did not find one single recipe that enticed me.
KWAnderson
I have had great luck with this book, especially the recipe for bread soup, and with the bouliabase.
Peter J Stempel
This book is the greatest cookbook that I have ever read.
jtopel@bgnet.bgsu.edu

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

31 of 33 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 28, 1998
Format: Hardcover
Luckily, I picked up Soup A Way of Life while fall's ripe tomatoes were still abound. The resulting Tomato and Bread Soup was meant to feed six, but the two of us kept refilling our bowls, leaving none. It was heavenly. A garlic lover, I moved on to Garlic Soup with Poached Eggs, then tried the same with Broccoli di Rappe which, with the addition of pasta, along with a green salad and some crsip apples became a memorable meal. Ernie's favorite, Winter Duck Soup, was a hit one weekend and a trip to China Town produced asumptuous Stewed eels. As winter approaches, chilly evenings beg for a substantial Borscht or any of the bean soups which I can't wait to try in all their variations. I expect we will be eating well for some time to come. But not only the recipes are attractive. The prose is a pleasure to read. The warmth with which Mrs. Kafka introduces the people close to her is a joy to share. This book celebrates family and the love of food. Bravo.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Peter J Stempel on June 25, 2002
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I love to cook, and am an avid "Roaster", partly due to Kafka's roasting book. I have had great luck with this book, especially the recipe for bread soup, and with the bouliabase. There are few secrets, just use good fresh ingredients, and taylor the soups to suit your taste.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Frank Early on December 8, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Barbara does a great job of pulling together a wide variety of soups that have never failed me from the simple country tomato, to the hearty beef stew to the hot and sour or the exotic Tom Ka Coconut Soup. The backstories and the basics lend to its completeness and character. This will be a staple in my cookbook library for life.
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful By sdowling@pol.net on March 18, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Barbara Kafka continues her series of extraordinary cookbooks. Here, as in her previous books, there are WONDERFUL recipes and, to spice up the book, there is fascinating, intelligent, interesting commentary about cooking techniques, personal interests, family history and variations of a theme, such as borscht. A terrific book for all who love to eat and love to cook...
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By amygdala on November 26, 2008
Format: Hardcover
There are some really wonderful recipes in this book that are quite easy, however you must look for them. It's true that some ingredients for quite a few of the soups are rather exotic, and not all of us live in Manhattan or Brooklyn where we can walk down the street and find, say, adzuki beans, asafetida, or Jerusalem artichokes (?) [yawn.. Please.] Also, it seems that many entries contain a multitude of ingredients which make simple soups complicated by the author's constant need for 'unconventionality' (expensive unnecessary ingredients). Borscht with porcini mushrooms, anyone? I thought the title was Soup: A Way of 'Life', not 'Wealth'. There's always something (or twelve) that you don't have on hand and/or need to purchase from some expensive specialty or ethnic grocery store. Also I find the included family stories a bit self-indulgent, like a memoir I don't want to read. Who cares that Vichyssoise evokes memories of Lillian? I don't. Who's Lillian?

On a positive note there are quite a few solid, uncomplicated recipes such as split pea, summer mushroom, gazpacho, and many tasty variations on chicken soup which are easy to make with ingredients you either have on hand or can pick up at any supermarket (or only contain one or two obscure ingredients instead of nine) which, in my opinion makes this book somewhat worthwhile.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By "washrag23" on May 24, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Kafka presents recipies that are far less challenging then many other serious cookbooks. Her simple prose and straight forward recipies are perfect for the cook ready to move up the culinary ladder.
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15 of 20 people found the following review helpful By jtopel@bgnet.bgsu.edu on February 25, 1999
Format: Hardcover
This book is the greatest cookbook that I have ever read. It offers more soups than I could've ever imagined existed. I will definately get my money's worth from this book ten fold! I would recomment this book to students, single parents, as well as large families.
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26 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Westley VINE VOICE on January 25, 2002
Format: Hardcover
This cookbook is lovely to look at and has nice vignettes about the author and her love of soup. However, the recipes were not my cup of tea. Too many of them contained either fish of odd ingredients that I would choose to avoid (e.g., oxtail). As a result, I have made few of these recipes.
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