Soup of the Day by Lydie Marshall

224 pages; No photographs or sketches.  Hardcover

Published by Harper Collins, NY, NY, January 2003

Reviewed by Jim Hanley, Spring 2003

I was a little suspicious of a cookbook covering just soup, particularly one that didn’t have the numerous bright, colorful pictures that attract me to cookbooks.  Soup of the Day, by Lydie Marshall is all business – soup business that is.  Like soup making, Lydie’s recipes are straightforward, easy to follow, and lightly peppered with “chef’s notes” and variation suggestions, which help out the novice and round out the accomplished cook.

I made the classic French Leek and Potato soup as well as Pappa al Pomodoro (Italian tomato and bread soup.)  They were both easy to make and quite tasty.  Pappa al Pomodoro was a particularly big hit at a “foodie” party that I held in which everyone demanded the recipe.

The chapters in the back on salad and breads are nice accompaniments to the almost 100 soup recipes, yet I found the desserts chapter to be a bit misplaced.  In general, the recipes were more about inspirational cooking and less about exacting science, which I found appropriate for soup cookery.  But most importantly, they were accurate and resulted in excellent soup. 

As an Italian-food and hearty-food lover, Pappa al Pomodoro caught my eye instantly when flipping through the book.  Since it was February in New England, I decided to go the canned route to ensure ripe, flavorful tomatoes.  I followed the recipe to the letter, which is not my typical modus operandi in the kitchen, and made a fabulous soup evidenced by the critics at my “foodie” dinner party.  Everything came together as expected with no surprises – this is soup of course.

I made the soup in the morning and after cooling placed it in the refrigerator for the day, and then served it that night.  The holding time mellowed everything nicely, and I was thrilled that the bread held up as well as it did (gentle stirring and reheating was crucial.)  Unfortunately, there was no leftover soup to try Lydie’s tomato custard variation suggested on the recipe page.  Next time it will have to be a double batch…