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Cookbook Review: CIA New Book of Soups. Let’s try Minestrone!



Soup--it’s what’s for dinner!  I’ve never met anyone that didn’t like soup.  Well, maybe a couple of my super picky kids, but we’ll leave them out of this discussion so I can keep my sanity.  There are hot soups, cold soups, thick and hearty soups, clear brothy-type soups…the list goes on and on.  They can warm your bones on a cold day, or give you a cool, refreshing snack when the temperature is rising outside.  Not only that, but they’re a great way to stretch your budget!  Make a big pot of soup, and you can eat for days.  Add a simple green salad and some crusty bread, and it’s on!

I was recently given a copy of The Culinary Institute of America’s The New Book of Soups to review.  It’s a second edition that’s been updated and expanded to include 30 new recipes and more than 130 new gorgeous photographs.  You all know I love photographs in cookbooks.  Not only do I want to read the recipes, but I want to see how things are going to look.   Mouthwatering photos?  Yes, please!

This is a beautiful hardbound book that you’ll get so much use out of.  There are 249 pages that are packed with not only the recipes, but also things like Soup Basics, which covers ingredients, options for finishing soups, thickeners, soup/stock pots, time-saving tips, tools for straining, adjusting consistency, flavor and seasonings, and much more.  Plus a chapter called Accompaniments that is seriously packed with everything you could ever want to serve alongside a bowl of soup--croutons, dumplings, crackers, cheese sticks, vegetable sticks--and the list goes on.

Chapters include:

  • Soup Basics
  • Broths
  • Hearty Soups
  • Stews
  • Cream Soups
  • Pureed Soups
  • Bisques and Chowders
  • Cold Soups
  • Accompaniments

Some of the recipes are already vegetarian/vegan, and many of them can easily be altered to fall into those categories.  There’s something for everyone in this book!

Deciding on one soup to try (to start with) wasn’t easy--there are tons to choose from.  But we narrowed it down to Minestrone, which I’ve never made.  It’s always been a favorite of ours, so it seemed like a natural place to start.  Minestrone literally translates to “big soup,”  and as mentioned in the book, there’s no one correct way to make minestrone.  They also encourage you to use what you have on hand, or go by what your favorite veggies, beans and pastas are.

I didn’t make this vegan, or even vegetarian--because in reviewing a book, I want to try the recipes as-is.  Here is the recipe:




2 tbsp olive oil
1 oz pancetta (if you can't find this, you can use diced bacon)
1 1/2 cups chopped green cabbage
1 cup chopped onions
1 cup sliced carrots
1/4 cup chopped celery
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 quarts chicken broth
1/2 cup peeled, diced potato
1 piece Parmesan rind
3/4 cup vermicelli or angel hair pasta, broken into 2 inch pieces
1/2 chopped plum tomatoes, peeled and seeded
1/4 cup cooked chickpeas, drained and rinsed if using canned
1/3 cup cooked kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1/3 cup pesto
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper
freshly grated Parmesan

Heat the oil in a soup pot over medium heat.  Add pancetta and cook for 3-5 minutes, until the fat melts. Don't brown it.
Add cabbage, onions carrots, celery, and garlic. Cook 6-8 minutes, until onions are translucent.
Add broth, potatoes, and Parmesan cheese rind. Bring to simmer and cook about 30 minutes, until vegetables are tender.
While the soup is simmering, cook the vermicelli according to package directions.  Drain and set aside.
After the 30 minutes are up, add the cooked pasta, tomatoes, chickpeas, and kidney beans.
Remove the Parmesan rind.
Stir in the pesto, and season to taste with salt and pepper.
Serve sprinkled with the grated Parmesan.



  • Did we like the soup?  We loved it!  It was hearty, but light--all at the same time.  The flavor was also light, but just right.  Delicious!  The recipe was easy to follow, and the directions very clear.


  • Would I recommend The New Book of Soups?  YES.  There are many more recipes in the book that I can’t wait to try.  If they’re all as heavenly as the Minestrone, we’ll be happily enjoying new soups, no matter the season.


Side note:   The rolls you see in the photos are from Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day.  They’re from the Master Recipe, simply formed into rolls and baked for about 18-20 minutes.    If you haven’t tried this book and it’s follow-up, Healthy Bread in 5 Minutes a Day, what are you waiting for?  You can enjoy fabulous fresh bread every single day, with very little effort. 


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Reader Comments (25)

Wow, this looks great, Elle! I love soup and this cookbook looks wonderful!

Looks great from here, I could go for some soup right now. Man, I need to get that 5 minute a day book, it sounds awesome.

January 21, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBob

Love hearing about cookbooks I don't have! And this looks delicous!

January 21, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJessica @ How Sweet It Is

Gonna have to put that book on my short list along with Ad hoc... fantastic looking bowl of soup!

January 21, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDan @ kitchen monki

I want to get this book. I love soups! Soup is filling and warming! I also love making big batches to eat as leftovers or to freeze. I can't wait to try this one.

January 21, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMaria

As always, your photos make me want to just reach right through the screen. :-D We love soups, too - they're just so versatile - and this book looks like a great resource!

January 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterRJ Flamingo

I tryed this soup last night, it is very versatile and very very delicious. I liked how it was a lite but filling soup, I felt full, but not bogged down. Thank you so much Elle for sharing this, I am going to have to keep an eye out for this book, lots of winter left and loves having the soup!

January 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDeb

We have soup for lunch everyday on the winter & Matt loves minestrone. This one looks fantastic

January 22, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterkat

Mmmm. Soup sounds so good right now! It's oh-so-cold in Colorado today...Minestrone would hit the spot!

I like photos in recipe books too! As a matter of fact, if a cookbook/recipe book doesn't have photos I usually just put it back on the shelf. ;-)

January 22, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterjulie lynn

My husband would be over the top with your soup! Love the added cheese on top!

January 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMichelle

Wow; this minestrone looks superb! The minestrone I make is always so full of tomatoes, and I feel like all I can taste is tomatoes. This recipe offers an interesting combination of ingredients with the cabbage and pesto. I can't wait to try a version of this!

January 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJenn/CinnamonQuill

Wow this sounds like a great cookbook. I wish someone would give me a soup cookbook (or frankly any cookbook) to review !!!
This particular recipe sounds delicious and I loved your photos!

January 23, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKathleen

well I'm kinda glad you reviewed this book as I did see it and throught 'no, it looks like it stinks'. I guess I couldn't be anymore wrong eh? so I would love to try this soup as I am a huge fan of minestrone with lots of stuff in it. I mean a lot. And yes, I LOVE photos in cookbooks, best part.

January 23, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterdawn

A hearty minestrone makes a great dinner - yours looks delicious. I'm a big fan of soups too.. they make such wholesome and healthy meals with plenty of serves.

January 24, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLadybird

This looks deeeee-lish-ous!

I passed an award on to you on my site - check it out when you get a change.


January 24, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSKM

This looks wonderful. You know, I can never think of a food to pick when forms from foodgawker and such ask this, but I need to remember that soups like this are probably my favorite food. Especially chicken broth based soups with root vegetables and pasta of some kind-the best!

January 25, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCam

Yum! I need this cookbook. It would be fun to do for my Culinary Covers blog... looks like some sort of butternut squash soup on the cover maybe?

January 26, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLori @ RecipeGirl

Does soup make the sting of seeing the team you despise make it to the Super Bowl? Funny story about minestrone soup I actually dated a veggie for a couple weeks. I was going to be all sweet and nice and make her dinner. Uhh....yeah soup was perfect except for the fact I used chicken stock. doh!

January 26, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJeff

That looks so good! My son has been on a soup kick lately (the weather has certainly been helping with that!) - have to add this one to the rotation.

January 27, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCate O'Malley

Soup cookbook - nice book where one can get all types of soups. Kids love soup very much. It would be great if we can provide them variety of soups daily

January 27, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSandy

that soup looks just super! I could have some right now - just after a rainy day!

January 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDharm

I've never seen spaghetti in a minestrone but sounds good! Long time no talk, how the heck are ya?

January 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterNick

Thank you, thank you, thank you for the heads up on this post! Ironically, we are facing yet another ice/snow/rain storm here in ATL again. Sometime real soon, my soup pot will be busy!
Mary Ellen

January 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMary Ellen

Great soup! Perfect for the cold weather we are having right now. Thanks for sharing :)

January 30, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKarine

This looks so good

February 2, 2010 | Registered CommenterBill

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