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on December 30, 1999
I was introduced to Splendid Soups in my second semester of culinary school - my chef told the class that "if you follow the directions, there's not a bad soup in the book"- and she was so right! You really don't need to be a chef to use this book - as all of my friends and family who I've given it to for gifts can attest! Very clear directions for each recipe, good discussions on when Peterson likes to serve each soup, great advice on how to play with each recipe to make it more your own (and great advice on "fixing the soup" if you aren't completely happy with the recipe exactly as followed) and even a wonderful section in the back with resources, patterns for improvising soups, and fundamental knowledge of how to make the fun extras, like flavored butters and croutons. I write for the Dollar Stretcher (a frugal living webzine) and I've recommended this book to thousands of people, without reservation. If soup is part of your weekly menu (and for those of us trying to save money on food so we can buy more books, it is!) this is the first, last and best reference to have on your shelf. Many of the soups are very down-to-earth - try the wonderful French Onion (p.169) or White Bean and Vegetable Soup (p.197) or the Mushroom Veloute (p.163-164) if you want soups that freeze well and save tons of money from the grocery bill. There are also lovely soups for when company comes (like the Duck Consomme) and a whole section on Fruit Soups (which any child will love!). Perhaps my favorite thing of all about Splendid Soups, after the recipes, of course, is how Peterson tells you how he discovered each soup (hitchhiking to Paul Bocuse's restaurant for a meal that began with Foie Gras and Truffle Soup), mistakes he's made while preparing some (like buying a pumpkin too big for his oven)- you get to live vicariously though his background information. In all, a splendid book.
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on October 17, 2000
A hefty, comprehensive, door-stop of a book, this "soup-lopedia" includes every soup I'd ever had a hankering to make--"Sopa de Ajo"--Spanish-style garlic soup with an egg in it (I craved it after a trip to Madrid) and Dried Fruit Soup (which my Scandinavian grandmother made when I was growing up)--and every other broth-based dish under the sun.
The histories of the soups and ingredients are so thorough and so fascinating that I felt like I was in a cooking class being taught by a wise, likeable teacher--and the photos of the soups were mouth-watering, and gave me serving suggestions.
An A++ book--I'm giving it to several people for Christmas!
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on October 11, 2002
I am a self-described soup addict. I make soups at least once a week year round, even when the weather in my hometown is well above 100 degrees! This book is an excellent book, great for someone who has spent a lot of time making soups and is willing to put the time and effort into getting the ingredients, and doing the chopping and cooking that is required. It has nearly every soup imaginable in it and is great for coming up with great ideas for your own new recipes. However, the reason I can't give it 5 stars is that, as others have mentioned before, it does not go into intimate detail in the instructions, it includes some hard-to-find or largely unfamiliar ingredients, and some of the recipes are difficult. If you are a beginner, you should probably stay away from this book. If you are soup obsessed like me, this book is well worth buying and will become an invaluable source of information for you.
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on March 11, 2006
First of all I have to say that I am spanish and I am not writing in my mother tongue. So I have to apologise in advance for my poor English skills.

When I read a review I like to know who write it in order to guess what he expected to find in the book and what sort of judgment he is going to give us.

I am an Spanish Food Engineer. I am not a professional chef but, I dare say, I am an advanced amateur cook.

I read the cookbooks form cover to cover at least twice. I underlain it and even it compare the recipies with other books.

I dont want a compilation of recipies that I left in my shelves for checking a recipe from time to time.

What I expected to find in this book was:

1-A classification of soups.

2-A correct description of the techniques for cooking the soups.

3-A collection of really splendid soups. I dont mind how many recipies the book has, but I mind the quality of each recipe.

I want a perfect recipe for each soup. Whether I like or not the soup, once I have cooked it, it depends on my personal taste.

So with this in mind, here is my review.

1-The book is organized by ingredientes (meat soups, fish soups, vegetable soups..). It makes easier to find a recipe if you have some ingredientes in the refrigerator and you wants to know what to do with them. But it should be arranged by technique as the book "Professional Chef" (CIA) does (consommes, hearty broths, cream soups, puree soups and bisques).You cant remember all the recipies but you can remember the techniques. This is the most didactic way of organize the book if you want to read it from cover to cover.

2-The general description of the techniques are omitted. The author goes straight to the description of the preparation of each recipe. What it is good if you want a compilation of recipies, but it isnt very useful if you really want to learn how to cook soups at your will.

By the other hand, the description of the preparation of the recipies are detailed and correct. Neither it is "over-detailed" nor ambiguous.

3-At first sight, the number of recipies seems to be huge. But once you have read some chapters you will realise that some recipies are almost the same. Organizing the book by ingredients its easy to repeat recipes because you only need to change an ingredient.For example, "Miso Soup" and "Miso soup with egg plant", the first one appears in the chapter of broths and the second one appears in the chapter of vegetables. But both are the same .Another example "Puree of Artichoke", "Puree of Asparagus", "Puree of Cauliflower"...etc.

The number of recipies has been falsely increased

4-I cant say the recipies doesnt works, but I cant say the recipies are excellent.In some cases I am sure the recipe is wrong. As I said I am spanish, and I cant assure that Gazpacho doesnt contain neither chicken broth nor lime. I understand the author wants to transform/interpret some exotic/ethnic soups. But the changes should not become the dish into another thing. Another example is the Bisque. He uses vegetable puree to thick the soup. By definition a Bisque is a soup that only contains crustaceans and the vegetables are only use for give a subtle taste and it should not distort the crustacean taste.

I wouldnt say that from the 400 soups all of them are "splendid". On the contrary, only few ones are good (but not excellent). He should be more concentrated on the quality rather than in the quantity.

5-There are few photographs (8 pages). The "soups" showed by these photos has got so many solids and so few liquid that you would need a fork and a knife for eating it. So it isnt soups, because you dont use a spoon for eating it.

6-The style of writing is a bit arrogant. I agree with other review. He uses a lot the word "I". I think he is too worry about demostrating that he has cooked each soup, because he repeat many times "Each time I cook it..." "I like to eat it.." "I cant image a summer without it.." and so on.

I dont think he has cooked all the recipies, or at least, I dont think he cook the soups with frequency he try to show.

The book contains 400 recipies, really do you think that he eats so often all them during the 365 days of the year?.

On the other hand, he is too precise with very tiny details (add the parsley just 1 minute before serving, for example) but he is too loose with other matters.

Does he pretend to be exquisite? an epicurean?

7-This book has got some good points. The chapter of ethnic soups is excellent. He describes some ethnic and exotic ingredients and also incorporate soups from Thailand, Vietnam, Korea, Japan, China, India Morocco, Mexico etc...

After reading the book you will be able to prepare a soup freely just watching what you have got in the refrigerator.

All in all, I doesnt believe its a masterpiece as other reviewers does. The recipies arent totaly perfect and if you are purist the book will disappoint you.

But if you arent a purist, if you doesnt look for the perfect soup, and if you only want to find a recipe and cook it from time to time, this is your book.
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on October 27, 2001
This book is great. I bought it for the Senegalese Peanut soup recipe and it was a stunning winner. When the weather turns colder and darker I make a lot of soups and this is the best book I have seen on the subject.
I have been reading some of the other reviews and I am somewhat amazed. I guess the net of all of these remarks is that this book is not a step-by-step for beginners. It assumes you know something about cooking. It does not give exact instructions. It gives outlines with options for branching out. This is exactly the way I like to cook, so it is perfect for my style.
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on October 22, 2000
Mmmmmmmmouthwatering. The weather's turning and thoughts are turning to steaming soups with hunks of buttered bread. I've tried three recipes, and they all worked --- The vichyssoise recipe (I made it hot) is the best I've ever tried, and there are hundreds of others from around the world I can't wait to try -- no rest until every page (there are over 400 of them) of this soup book is kitchen-splattered and crusty.
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on October 4, 2001
After checking this book out of the library, and cooking my first presentable soups. I ended up getting the book for my library. My friends and family ended up buying the book for me after eating a few of the soups from this book. Mr Peterson includes alternate finishes as well as ideas on what to do with the leftovers. I've been using this book for a few months now and good soup is part of my weekly ritual now. As an amateur cook I found the book easy to follow and enjoyably elegant to have around. I end up reading it on the couch figuring out what I'm going to eat for supper. I've also found it an easy book to improvise with I've converted the avocado soup into dip for parties, and used the roasted garlic and acorn squash soup as a sauce. I'm looking forward to reading his sauce and vegetable books as well. Mr. Peterson I thank you for the good food...
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on August 27, 2001
There's nothing like hot, hearty soup on a cold winter day. If you want to read about soups, great book. If you want to cook them, forget it. The book suffers from overly complicated recipes. To make matters worse, it's filled with errors and omissions. Recipes sometimes seem to skip steps (ingredients never get added!), and the ingredients chapter doesn't bother to describe the truly unusual ingredients. It's as if the editor just checked spelling and no one actually tried to COOK from the recipes.
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on June 8, 2001
I really, really wanted to like this cookbook. However, I tried 3 recipes and every single one was a disaster. The potato and leek soup, rather than being rich and creamy, ended up like weeds in a watery base. YUCK.
I tried to make the gazpacho recipe. After an hour and a half of chopping vegetables, I had... a huge side of vegetables. This was NOT soup. My mother saved the day by adding some wine vinegar and other ingredients, and blending it a bit.
The third time I wised up - I didn't depend soley on the soup as a main course. I tried the tomato & basil soup. This did not work out, either. It didn't even look appetizing. sigh.
I don't like to give bad reviews; in fact, this is my first. But I gave this cookbook 3 honest, enthusiastic tries and each time met with disaster. It is one thing to have a cookbook with a few recipes that don't work out. It is quite another to actually be fearful of trying a recipe! I'm going to try and sell this cookbook on eBay or in zShops and hope I can find something else.
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on March 7, 2001
Beware - receipes include many esoteric ingredients you're not likely to have on hand. Contains a handy, although limited, food glossary. A challenging cookbook!
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