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December 14, 2011

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.

My #1 gift recommendation for your favorite soup maker is an immersion blender (which Alton Brown calls a boat motor). Instead of having to transfer hot soup to a food processor or blender, which can be a bit of a treacherous maneuver, the cook can purée soup right in the pot with one of these hand-held gizmos. Be sure to buy one with various speed settings. (Bonus: immersion blenders can crush ice for cocktails, too.)


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.


Posted by: Jeanette | December 14, 2011 at 11:33 AM

I would love to get my hands on The Soup Peddler's Slow & Difficult Soups - might have to add that to my holiday list.

Posted by: Mary Helen | December 14, 2011 at 12:29 PM

Add a chinoise to that list and you can put my name on it. :) Love making soup.

Posted by: Kalyn | December 14, 2011 at 12:43 PM

What a great list. I have them all except the book, so maybe I need to buy that!

Posted by: Shirley @ gfe | December 14, 2011 at 12:47 PM

Great listing, Lydia! Will share on my gfe Facebook page. I know I'd be happy to receive any of these. ;-)

Your Chanukah celebration sounds very special.


Posted by: Lydia | December 14, 2011 at 01:16 PM

Jeanette, it's truly my favorite of the dozens of soup cookbooks I own. The recipes are almost incidental to the stories.

Mary Helen, I did think about a chinoise and/or a food mill. Good ones are expensive, but I wouldn't mind finding them under my Chanukah bush!

Kalyn, the book is great, for soup lovers and Austin lovers.

Shirley, thanks so much. I hope you get everything on your wish list for the holidays!

Posted by: SallyBR | December 14, 2011 at 03:34 PM

Never heard of that book, it goes straight to my "tiny" wish list...


I agree, the immersion blender is a must, between soups, sauces, and smoothies, we use ours daily!

Posted by: Lydia | December 15, 2011 at 08:00 AM

Sally, you'll love this book. It's a small paperback (affordable!), and one of the best books in my library.

Posted by: Pattyabr | December 15, 2011 at 01:36 PM

Awesome list I've been looking at the blenders very cool
I'll forward this to my spouse :)

Posted by: Lydia | December 16, 2011 at 07:45 AM

Patty, I hope all of your wishes come true and that you find an immersion blender under your tree!

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  • I'm Lydia Walshin, a longtime food writer who lives and cooks in a real log house. If I could, I'd eat Chinese noodles, grapes, ice cream and soup every day.
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