You may not read it in ``How to Run a Country Inn,'' but one thing is fundamental: If you're involved in the inn business around New England, you've got to know how to warm up your guests. Friendly smiles and pleasant handshakes are fine, but in a region where the windchill factor can drive the temperature to 40 degrees below, that's not enough.
The answer for many innkeepers is simple -- soup. Hearty soup. No insipid soups of light broth with parsley flakes here. These are the soups for the tired, wet, and cold -- the folks who have spent seven hours on the ski slopes, or the hunters who got up at 4 a.m. to wade through swamps and sit freezing for hours in a duck blind.
Cleo and Fred Alter run the Shoreham Inn and Country Store in Shoreham, Vt., a charming old building that dates back to the 1790s.
``Cleo's third generation in the business,'' Fred says. ``Her grandmother ran a little inn in Skidel, Russia.
``We get folks from all over,'' he continues, ``from as far away as Indonesia, Germany, Japan, and England.''
Mostly, though, it's the ski crowd that passes through on its way to Killington or Sugarbush. ``We get some fishermen, too, coming back from Lake Champlain. We used to cook up their catch for them, but we sort of discourage that now. We're mostly a bed-and-breakfast.''
One soup they serve has been handed down from Cleo's Russian grandmother, and if Cleo is in the mood to make it that day, you can even pick it up at the takeout section of the country store.
The following recipes are all from ``The Best Recipes From New England Inns,'' (Yankee Books, Dublin, N.H., $15.95). Russian Cabbage Soup 1 can (48 ounces) V-8 juice 48 ounces water 1 medium-sized onion, chopped 1 medium-sized head cabbage, cut into small pieces 8 ounces brown sugar 1 cup raisins Granulated garlic and pepper to taste
Combine all ingredients in soup kettle and simmer over low heat until cabbage is soft -- about 1 1/2 hours.
Serves 12 to 15.
Dr. Andrew Templeman and his wife run The Ram in the Thicket, in Wilton, N.H.
He refers to himself as an ``inactive'' Presbyterian minister. ``I had three churches before I decided to go into the inn business, but I still fill in on Sundays now and then,'' he says.
Their old white Victorian house, comfortably tucked into the brow of Carnival Hill, stands solidly on gray granite blocks from neighboring Fitzwilliam.
Before enjoying one of the inn's specialties, a favorite meal of pork tenderloin glazed with apples and horseradish, you may get a steaming bowl of this unique soup. Sweet-Sour Vegetable Soup 1 head (2 pounds) cabbage, shredded 9 cups water 1/2 cup chopped onions 1/2 cup chopped carrots 1/2 cup chopped celery 1 can (28 ounces) tomatoes, chopped 3/4 cup granulated sugar 1/4 cup brown sugar 2 teaspoons salt or to taste 1/2 teaspoon celery salt 1/2 teaspoon dried dill 1/3 cup lemon juice 8 to 10 gingersnaps crumbled (or 8 graham crackers, crumbled and mixed with 1 tea- spoon ginger and 2 tablespoons molasses)
Combine all ingredients in large kettle. Bring to the boil, reduce heat, and simmer covered for 2 hours.
Here's a soup with more than a touch of the Italian Alps. It's from the Longwood Inn in Marlboro, Vt. The chef there suggests serving it with Italian bread and Parmesan cheese. Spinach and Garlic Soup 1 cup olive oil 9 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped fine 1 large onion, chopped 2 carrots, peeled and diced 2 stalks celery, chopped 2 teaspoons dried basil 8 cups chicken stock 2 pounds fresh spinach, chopped 3 potatoes, diced Grated Parmesan cheese
In a heavy saucepan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic, onion, carrots, celery, and basil. Stir 4 to 5 minutes, taking care not to let garlic brown. Add chicken stock, spinach, and potatoes, and boil gently until potatoes are done.
Serve topped with grated Parmesan cheese.
Serves 8 to 10.