The recently published Zuppe features 50 soup recipes prepared by members of the Rome Sustainable Food Project, a mess hall serving the community of artists at the American Academy in Rome. As a diehard Italophile, I was predisposed to love this book, and I wasn’t disappointed. Author Mona Talbott, a Chez Panisse and Alice Waters disciple, is a frugal foodie who proves (with grace and style) that healthy, tasty, economical meals can be prepared on a shoestring budget. She crowd sources the recipes from her staff and local food PURVEYORS, and demonstrates that institutional dining doesn’t have to be institutional.
Starting with the fall, and following the academic year, the book is divided by season, insuring that the freshest produce forms the daily cuisine. The soups are HALE and hearty, using very basic ingredients that are readily available. The recipes are designed to serve either 4 – 6 or 6 – 8 and are offered in both American and European weight systems (ounces and liters, pounds and kilos).
The recipes appear to be relatively simple, so I asked my Mom, who is severely cooking-challenged, to try two of the recipes. Even though we are ENSCONCED in spring, I chose two of the winter recipes, which seemed appropriate because it’s still cold in New England. My Mom prepared the “cauliflower soup” and the “lentil and carrot soup” during my long weekend home from school. She was stressed by less than exact directions, such as “a bunch of parsley.” How big is a bunch???
We served the soups with artisanal bread and salad. The meal didn’t disappoint but Mom complained that the recipes were DECEPTIVELY simple.
The proceeds from sales of Zuppe support the Rome Sustainable Food Project, a very worthy cause. I love that the cover is faux-distressed to suggest that the book is a hand me down from Grandma. Soup is a staple meal for year round cooking, which makes Zuppe an INDISPENSABLE addition to your cookbook collection.
- PURVEYOR = vendor
- HALE = healthy
- ENSCONCED = settled
- DECEPTIVELY = deceivingly
- INDISPENSABLE = essential