Holiday gifts for soup makers
Soup makers top the list of easy-to-buy-for foodies. By nature, they take risks, work with what's on hand, need very little in the way of kitchen tools, and have a sense of fun and adventure. Give them a pot, a spoon, a ladle, and an immersion blender, and a whole bunch of seemingly-random ingredients, and they're off and running.
A good, sturdy, heavy-bottomed soup pot makes all the difference to a cook. If your budget allows, buy your favorite soup maker a Dutch oven. My red, five-quart Cuisinart enameled cast iron Dutch oven, found on the slightly hurt shelf in the back of a local discount store, sits permanently on my stove top. I make soup in it every week. A five- or six-quart Dutch oven, round or oval, will make enough soup for 6-8 people. Even in a discount shop, a Dutch oven isn't a low-priced item, but it will last a lifetime.
With an inexpensive 4-quart slow cooker (usually less than $25), your favorite soup maker can whip up a batch of soup stock every week, like I do. And, when the freezer is full of stock, you can cook a whole chicken or a batch of stew or soup.
Of all the soup cookbooks on my library shelf, the best read by far is The Soup Peddler's Slow & Difficult Soups. The recipes cry out to be made, but the stories behind the recipes are the real treasure here. David Ansel has a way with words, and a way with soup. This book is a gem that belongs in every cook's collection.
In our house, we often give small presents on each night of Chanukah. If that's your tradition, too, think of ladles and slotted spoons, salts and peppers, and one really great wooden spoon for stirring.