Combat Winter’s Cold With Dedicated ‘Soup Nights’
Julia Child spent 10 years perfecting her iconic cookbook Mastering the Art of French Cooking, and through her meticulous work, Child taught scores of people how to cook; the recipes so detailed and so precise the instructions fill several pages.
It was Julia Child who first taught Betty Rosbottom how to cook — and are we sure glad she did.
During her long career, Rosbottom operated a successful cooking school (Jacques Pépin was a guest chef five years in a row) and authored 12 cookbooks. She is particularly known for a cake — or the cake, rather — that was featured not once, but twice on the cover of Bon Appétit. The chocolate confection is topped with big gift-package-like chocolate ribbons, takes days to make, and continues to be one of BA’s most requested recipes, even decades after it last appeared.
In her newest cookbook Soup Nights: Satisfying Soups and Sides for Delicious Meals All Year, Rosbottom heads her introduction with the title: Soup Again With No Apology. “Zuppas, brodos, potages, gumbos, chilies, bisques, chowders — the word over, soups are part of every home cook’s repertoire and often bring back memories of family and place,” Rosbottom writes.
Within its covers Rosbottom shares recipes like Black Bean Soup With Lime-Pickled Red Onions, Spicy Red Lentil Soup With Butternut Squash and Cauliflower, and a lovely Onion Soup Gratiné, which she models after Julia Child’s recipe.
Rosbottom also includes chapters promoting various recipes for fresh salads (like this Radicchio, Spinach, and Grapefruit Salad), sandwiches, and desserts, and goes further to provide menu suggestions pairing featured soups with sides at the bottom of each recipe.
Soups are inherently uncomplicated, but Rosbottom voice comes from a place of calm, reassuring authority making it so that even the greenest of cooks could say, “Yeah, I could do that.”
Soup recipes, like this Colorado Chicken Soup With Black Beans, Corn, and Pepitas, a hearty, chunky soup ideal for when in need of warmth, uses canned and frozen ingredients and a store-bought rotisserie chicken — anyone could make this fantastic meal and feel good (and fancy) while doing so.
We caught up with Rosbottom to find out more about her newest cookbook, continue reading below for the interview.
The Daily Meal: What is your philosophy of cooking?
Betty Rosbottom: I have a French quote written on the soffit of my kitchen wall that reads, “We should live to eat and not eat to live.” This saying has appeared in more than one of my kitchens over the years and has been my mantra for several decades. In cooking classes, in articles I’ve written, and in my cookbooks, I love to show others that cooking good food is a simple pleasure that enriches our daily lives.
How did it inspire the recipes you chose to include in this book?
Well, soups by their nature are uncomplicated to prepare, even for novices. They are forgiving if you make an error or two; recipes can be easily doubled, and they taste even better when made ahead or left over. In Soup Nights I’ve tried to tempt readers with a variety of choices — vegetable soups, fish soups, those with nutrient-rich beans and grains, as well as hearty versions for countering the cold, and chilled ones for sweltering days. I’ve also included recipes for salads, sandwiches, and desserts to partner with the soups. And, in case you’re wondering which soup pairs up with which side, there are Soup Night menu boxes at the end of each recipe to guide you to a delicious and complete meal.
What is your favorite recipe in the book and why?
It depends on the season. In fall when a chill fills the air, I think of Creamy Chicken Soup With Autumn Vegetables. I know it’s time to make this soup when butternut squash, Brussels sprouts, and mushrooms appear at my local farmers’ market. When the Nor’easters blanket New England with snow, I crave a big bowl of warm, comforting Winter Soup from the Chalet (prepared with humble root vegetables, bits of smoked sausage, and white beans). I love the rustic accents of this soup, which helps stave off winter’s cold. And for those humid dog days of summer, Tomato Gazpacho With Cucumber Granita is my go-to choice for cooling down.
How do you hope readers will use this book, what do you hope they take away?
My hope — as both author and cooking teacher — is that Soup Nights will encourage readers to select soups as the centerpieces for their meals. Rather than picking up another roasted chicken at the supermarket, or reaching for the phone to order pizza or pad Thai, a “soup night” can be almost as easy, undoubtedly more memorable, and immeasurably more satisfying!
Anything else you would like to share?
Soups are just fun! They reward us with a certain joie de vivre too often missing in our frenetic schedules. They also comfort, often evoking memories of family and home. During the two years I worked on this book the constant refrain I heard was “I love soup!” Soup Nights is my effort to keep a soup pot on top of every stove!
Click here to purchase your own copy of Soup Nights: Satisfying Soups and Sides for Delicious Meals All Year by Betty Rosbottom, Rizzoli New York, 2016.