Few dishes are as versatile, or as satisfying, as soup, and mastering the skill of making soup is regarded by many as the test of a true chef.
Robert Ackart's A Celebration of Soups (New York: Doubleday. Hardcover $19.95 , soft cover $10.95) is devoted entirely to soups, from borsch to bouillabaisse, chowder to consomme, gaz-pacho to gumbo. There are creamy soups, featuring every vegetable from asparagus to zucchini; bean soups; cheese soups; and fruit soups.
There is a separate chapter on garnishes, including croutons and dumplings, that can transform a simple bowl of soup into a satisfying meal. Cream of Parsley Soup 6 tablespoons butter 2 cups chopped parsley leaves 3 cups chicken stock or 2 10 1/2-ounce cans chicken broth 1 medium-size potato, peeled and grated 1 teaspoon summer savory 3 cups light cream Generous grating of nutmeg Salt and white pepper Grated Parmesan cheese or finely chopped parsley
In large saucepan, heat butter and in it, over medium heat, cook parsley, stirring often, for 5 minutes.
Add stock, potato, and summer savory. Bring liquid to boil, reduce heat, and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes.
In container of food processor or blender, whirl mixture, 2 cupfuls at a time , until smooth. Transfer to saucepan.
Stir in cream. Season soup to taste with nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Serve soup hot with sprinkling of Parmesan cheese - or chilled, garnished with chopped parsley.
The Red and Green Tomato Cookbook (Charlotte, Vt.: Garden Way. $4.95) gives countless ways to prepare both red and green tomatoes. From Tomato Corn Chowder and Rosy Cheese Wafers to salads, aspics, pizzas, and souffles.
This collection has combinations of tomatoes that are a little different from the usual - like the recipe for tomatoes in cornbread and others for jelly and relish - that will help use up tomatoes of either color.
Now in paperback The Pleasures of Preserving and Pickling by Jeanne Lessem (New York: Vintage Books. $5.95) is a new, updated, and revised edition with recipes designed for today's smaller kitchens and smaller quantities.
Adapting ideas she learned growing up in her mother's Arkansas kitchen to the limitations of time and space of today's cooks, Jeanne Lessem has trimmed down the by-the-bushel recipes to preserving and canning quantities of three to five cups. A pleasure to read and excellent for practical needs.