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Gifts for Cooks: 'Love Soup'

December 3, 2009 |  3:55 pm

LovesoupAt this time of the year, it’s tempting to issue invitations, but then what? You have to actually serve food, amid all the crazy busy obligations everyone seems to have. Soup is perfect: It can be made in advance, and with a few additions – bread, salad, maybe some cheese or a dip – the meal is a done deal and you can get back to singing “White Christmas.” Or whatever.

“Love Soup,” by Anna Thomas, has dozens of vegetarian soup recipes and things to accompany them, organized mostly by season. Thomas, who gained a huge following with the publication of her book “The Vegetarian Epicure,” decided it was time for a soup book after she spent months cooking in a teeny-tiny kitchen during house renovations. Soup was one of the things she could best manage there.

If you need a lot of help choosing, one recipe is called Christmas Eve Porcini Soup, which Thomas calls “the queen of soups.” Add some equally elegant dishes around it and you’ve got a pre-Santa party.

Thomas includes a menu that puts the soup in the spotlight. It calls for some appetizers -- “nothing too hard,” she said -- Jeri’s Spiced Nuts, Parmesan and Fennel Biscotti, Tapenade with Figs and Citrus, and Marbled Cannellini Dip with Roasted Tomatoes.

Serve the soup with sourdough baguettes “and your best red wine.” Then salad and Thomas’ Olive Oil and Lemon Cake with orange and tangerine slices.

But in her house, Thomas said, there’s more that goes with the soup. “I indulge in some labor-intensive but much-loved Polish traditions. I make hundreds of tiny cream cheese pierogi to go with the soup, a rich dough wrapped around caramelized cabbage or potato fillings,” she said.

OK, not a simple addition.  But do attend to that good red wine part.

-- Mary MacVean

Love Soup, by Anna Thomas, $35, W.W. Norton & Co. Cover illustration by Annika Huett