Soups are a deceptive thing. You sit down to dinner, someone places a bowl in front of you and your heart falls. How is soup a meal? But very soon, you're reminded of its powers to sate and comfort all at once.
In the Holiday Edition of the California Cookbook, we have 21 soup recipes, each a perfect dinner, each a promising first course, each a reminder of a shared meal when reheated the next day for lunch.
(Our new searchable recipes database requires only that you type in your email address. From there, you can spend hours upon hours browsing more than 638 Times Test Kitchen recipes.)
This soup of hearty winter greens and chickpeas will make you feel better about life. If you omit the Parmesan-Reggiano, you can go beyond vegetarian and call it vegan. Here's what Food Editor Russ Parsons wrote about this soup: "A well-made vegetable soup has just about everything you could want in a winter dish -- a balanced complexity of flavors, a soothing warmth, just enough heft to sustain, and a surprising lightness despite its big taste."
Looking for something gooier? Then this French onion soup is for you. (We're a classy bunch here, so we titled it Soupe a l'oignon gratinee.) Reader Merle S. Glick recalled a wonderful soup from late night in Paris 40 years ago. The French onion soup at Comme Ca brought back that moment from the 1960s. Test Kitchen Director Noelle Carter got the recipe and wrote it for home cooks. Here's her description of the technique: "Start with a generous amount of slowly caramelized onions, and gently simmer them in a broth brightened with a little Sherry and hints of thyme and bay leaf."
And that's before the creamy layer of Gruyère cheese.
This chicken soup wit herb-flecked matzo balls is right in so many ways. It was offered in 2012 for Passover, but everything about it makes it lovely for this exact minute. A flavorful broth, vegetables, chicken and, of course, airy, chewy dumplings. A garlic-chili relish sends this out of this world.
We'll let you take it from here. Click around, save the ones that speak to you to your recipe box, make one and tell us what you think. You can leave comments below, tweet with the hashtag #CalCook or drop us a note on our Facebook page.
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