This weekend I’d been thinking that I’d go on a 15-mile walk on Staten Island on Sunday with a group of like-minded folks who enjoy city-walks in all kinds of weather. But when this morning came, I changed my mind: I didn’t feel like getting up early, and the arch of one of my feet was a little sore from running around barefoot as a warm-up before trapeze class Friday night. Nothing major, but I felt like not walking 15 miles on it might be a good idea. So I decided to stay home and, among other things, cook. I’d just gotten Nigella Kitchen from the library on Saturday, and I thought a soup might be a good first recipe. Disappointment number one: there are hardly any soup recipes in this book. Soup is, I think, my favorite thing to cook: it’s generally pretty easy/not very fussy, often makes copious amounts, and reheats well. Disappointment number two: most of the soup recipes this book does contain are ways of using leftovers from other recipes. Like, if you made a roast chicken recipe and have leftovers, here’s how to make a great soup with some shredded roast chicken and coconut milk and some other stuff. Which is nice, but it wasn’t what I was looking for.

That said, I did find one soup recipe that was a stand-alone venture, “Sunshine Soup.” Making it couldn’t be any easier: you slice an orange bell pepper and a yellow bell pepper and roast them with some olive oil. (Nigella says to use garlic-flavored oil, but I didn’t have any so I just used plain.) Meanwhile, you boil some veggie broth or chicken broth, chuck in some frozen corn (I used local corn from my summer CSA share that my boyfriend had frozen), and let that simmer. When the peppers are done, you toss them in the soup, take out some of the corn kernels with a slotted spoon and put them aside (I skipped this step), and then blend what’s in the pot, adding the reserved corn back in when you’re done. The picture in the cookbook makes the soup look lovely, a lively yellow, and maybe that is how it looks if you use chicken broth. But the veggie broth I used is pretty dark, and even after blending the soup there are little bits of blackened pepper skin (and the peppers are supposed to be blistered, the recipe says so!): that combination, I think, makes the whole thing look pretty unpleasant. Luckily, it tastes really good, simple and bright. (And it wasn’t just me: I found someone else’s blog post that says this soup “looked a bit like sick but was very tasty,” and then I found a different person’s blog post featuring pictures of this soup that look just like mine did.)

I’m not sure what other recipes I’ll make from this book before it’s time to return it to the library, but if I do make more from it, I may post about it again. I also have The Food Matters Cookbook by Mark Bittman checked out, so I’ll probably post about that as well. If you cook: have you used either of these cookbooks? What did you think? What’s your favorite cookbook right now?

5 Responses to “Cooking Interlude: Nigella Kitchen by Nigella Lawson”

  1. Carol Says:

    Heather, I made soup last night, too, from a cookbook by a new friend. It’s called Sunday Soup by Betty Rosbottom and though I usually mistrust these picture-driven cookbooks, she’s really good. I made beef barley soup (a vat of it, half of which I froze) and earlier in the week, the Tuscan ribollita.

    But my great food discovery is the cooking blot The Wednesday Chef. Not only is Luisa Weiss an incredible writer, but her recipes are fabulous. http://www.thewednesdaychef.com/

  2. Heather Says:

    Carol, a whole cookbook about soup sounds great! I just checked and my local library has Sunday Soup in its collection, so perhaps I’ll check it out.

    And ooh, I read several food blogs – Smitten Kitchen, 101 Cookbooks, Sprouted Kitchen, Outpost505 – but I’ve never looked at The Wednesday Chef before. I will check it out.

    Right now I’m in more of a cookbook phase, though, because I don’t have a printer at home (well, I do but it’s not set up/may not even be functional any more) so cooking from blogs or sites like Epicurious currently means one of the below:
    a) bringing my laptop into the kitchen – which I guess I could do but it makes me slightly nervous because I can be clumsy, and if my boyfriend is also cooking with me, the two of us plus limited kitchen space plus a laptop = definitely scary

    b) writing the recipe down – which I sometimes do but usually it requires more patience than I have

    c) lots of walking back and forth between the kitchen and the living room to doublecheck the recipe, which doesn’t make for the most relaxing cooking experience.

  3. Danya Says:

    I have fun watching Nigella on TV, not so much for the actual recipes as for her cheerful pleasure in indulgence and her amusing descriptions of the food. Last night, I caught the last few minutes of one of her Christmas episodes; her comment that ‘there’s no point in getting so tense about your Christmas party that you end up hating the people for coming’ made me laugh!

  4. Heather Says:

    Danya, I’ve never seen her on TV but from the cookbook it does seem like she would come across as fun and fun to watch.

  5. 2010: a review « Cake, biscuits and maybe casseroles too… Says:

    […] record – I love the soup and have made it a couple of times – although I do agree with other reviewers that the colour is not […]

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