Soups warm your heart as well as your stomach. A former caterer, Simonds answers questions such as, How do you simmer a sumptuous stock? What are the essential ingredients for creamy chowder? How do you build layers of flavor in a stew? Whether you're tempted to try an old favorite or one of Simonds's trademark innovative recipes, the author stresses that soups are best when made with the freshest ingredients from local producers.
Simonds' logical follow-up to last year's Fresh Maine Salads offers a hundred takes on one of the world's most popular comfort foods. Naturally weighted towards chowders, stews and cream-based soups (this is Maine, after all), Simonds offers a number of fresh takes on old staples-standards like Gazpacho, split pea and clam chowder-that are generally tasteful and inventive. Potato leek soup gets added depth from the addition of crabmeat and chive blossoms, a generous helping of vodka in Tipsy Tomato Soup transforms tomato basil soup into a variation of the popular pasta sauce and a delicate Pear Bisque topped with goat cheese and pecans makes a wonderful first course. Simonds stretches credulity with her strawberry and blueberry "breakfast soups," little more than smoothies served in bowls, and the addition of blueberry wine to the thick and creamy Five Mushroom Soup, but hits outnumber misses by far. Though many of her dishes-and even some ingredients-are regional, diners everywhere will find a handful of new favorites among these surprisingly creative and easy-to-make recipes.