Wednesday, March 16, 2011

MR. SUNDAY'S SOUPS: A News Anchor's Wife Creates Her First Cookbook Which Finds Itself on The New York Times Besteller Lists

Jennifer McCord, a regular guest contributor to falls in love with soup all over again with this new collection.  

The weather here in the Northwest over this long and dreary winter has been an unpredictable mess of rain, snow, ice, hail—at times all mixed together.  Partaking of food that comforts the soul, the cook and the eater makes a lot of good sense. We have been talking about food since the holidays and what makes us feel warm and cozy as the days feel long, cold and wet. 

This reviewer remembers coming home after slogging along in the snow and cold from school to my mother’s homemade beef vegetable or minestrone soup.  It warms me up just thinking of it. Lately my husband and I have decided to make an effort to add more soup to our meals. MR. SUNDAY’S SOUPS (Wiley trade paperback; $19.95; ISBN: 978-0-470-64022-7) by Lorraine Wallace is just the book for all the soup enthusiasts amongst us.  Wallace, a talented home cook, is married to Fox Sunday News anchor, Chris Wallace.  Lorraine turned to soup as a way of bringing her busy family together and every Sunday after her husband’s anchoring chores are over, he comes home and joins other members around the Wallace dining room table to enjoy his wife’s great soups.  Wallace raves about Lorraine’s soups so much that he has earned an affectionate name among his colleagues at the show:  Mr. Sunday Soups.

The recipes in this cookbook are delicious, but also affordable, healthy and easy.  Lorraine Wallace offers varieties of soup and ingredients that can create simple or complex flavors. It was unusually difficult to pick out which soup to make as there are seventy-five choices and they all were ones I wanted to try.  We will be turning to this cookbook often.

MR. SUNDAY’S SOUPS is user-friendly because it is divided into the seasons, making it easy to find fresh ingredients available locally. Each season features a list of Wallace family favorites.  For the fall season, one that particularly drew me in was Minestrone and Arugula Salad Soup.  It is chock full of vegetables including Great Northern beans and yet the soup is low in fat.  After ladle the soup into the bowls you add fresh, spicy arugula and parsley that has been tossed with oil and lemon.  Other recipes in this section feature squash, lentils, mushrooms and of course Chicken Noodle Soup.  Winter season favorites include French Onion Soup, Hot-and-Sour Soup, Beef Barley Soup, and Lorraine’s more broth-heavy version of the classic French stew, now called Pot-au-Feau Soup.  Spring offerings include Split Pea Soup and Salmon Chowder. But one I’m absolutely sure will become one of my favorites—Greek Lemon Soup, which is next on my list. Lorraine’s Summer selections are loaded with vegetables at their seasonal best, and I can’t wait to prepare Corn Chowder, Old-Fashioned Tomato Soup with Maple-Candied Bacon and Vineyard Clam Chowder.  Lorraine ends the collection with two sections. Friends and Family Favorites, features recipes Lorraine gathered from travels, friends and family experiences. For instance there is the ‘21’ Club Chilled Senegalese Soup, a classic that has been on this legendary New York restaurant’s menu for decades. The soup includes, curry, apples, chicken, carrots, raisins, onions, cream and mango chutney.   Four different takes on chili for the Game Day Favorites chapter with Buffalo Chili, a standout with white meant ground turkey, host sauce and blue cheese standing in for the famous chicken wings when family and friends get together to watch sports on TV.  The last section is about how to make your own soup stock. 

Recently as storm clouds announced the arrival of an approaching snowfall, my husband and I decided to try a soup from the Winter chapter—Green Kale and Kielbasa Soup.  We were fortunate to have some kielbasa sausage from a local delicatessen and some fresh green and purple kale from the local farmer’s market.  Murray had made some homemade chicken stock, which he had frozen.  As the day became colder, we knew this soup would be wonderful for our evening meal.  It was not as time consuming as some soups to make.  You chop onions and garlic and sauté the onions and then garlic.  Next came the potatoes that have been thinly sliced and sautéed, and then added to the stock.  When the potatoes are tender, you mash some of them up into the broth, add the sausage, salt and pepper, cook for a few more minutes, adding chopped kale and simmering until the kale is wilted but still bright.  A final taste for seasoning and the soup is ready to serve.  The resulting soup was both colorful and tasty. We will surely make it again.

MR. SUNDAY’S SOUPS has abundant color photos of soup, but what separates the book from other soup collections is a gallery of Wallace family portraits at play, around the family table, at weddings, graduations, and vacations with Chris’s father, newsman Mike Wallace, and his mother, Mary and Lorraine’s mom, Kathy Leonard, and the family Labrador Retriever, Winston.  Lorraine Wallace is making a big point about how gathering the family around meal times is an important part of maintaining the family dynamic.  Soup is the vehicle that keeps Lorraine Wallace’s family coming back to the table.  

Green Kale and Kielbasa Soup
Serves 6

This is a hearty, vitamin-rich soup that will satisfy the meat-and-potato lovers in your family, while also satisfying their nutritional need for fresh green vegetables during the dark days of winter. This tasty soup will stick to your loved ones’ bones and make them feel cherished and protected against the cold.
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 large yellow onions, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
3 large russet potatoes (about 21/2 pounds), peeled and thinly sliced
2 quarts (8 cups) low-sodium chicken broth, homemade (page 230) or store-bought
2 pounds cooked turkey kielbasa sausage, sliced 1/2 inch thick
2 teaspoons kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 bunch green kale, thick stems and ribs removed, leaves sliced thinly crosswise
Place a large, heavy soup pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat and add the oil. Add the onions and cook, stirring frequently, until golden, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute more.
Add the potatoes and toss to coat them evenly with the oil and onions. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the edges have only just begun to brown, 2 to 3 minutes.
Add the broth and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pot, and simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes. Remove from the heat.
Using a potato masher or handheld immersion blender, puree the soup just slightly, leaving some of the potato slices intact.
Add the sausage, salt, and pepper to taste. Cover the pot and return the soup to a boil. Reduce the heat to low so the soup simmers gently and cook for about 5 minutes more, just to heat the sausage through. Add the kale and cook the soup, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the kale is wilted but still bright green, about 5 minutes. Taste for seasoning.
Ladle into warm soup bowls or tall mugs and serve immediately.

Jennifer McCord made her first cake when she was nine years old. Even though the cake did not turn out as she expected, the experience began a life long love of cooking. She read M.F.K. Fisher in her late teens and decided to follow her advice. Cook with the cook whose food you have found delightful. Therefore, she has cooked with a host of cooks from bakers to restaurateurs following her palate and learning how to better her own cooking.  
Jennifer has her own publishing consulting company where she operates as an editor, publishing management consultant and book packager. She and her husband Murray, live in Settle, Washington. Jennifer can be reached at

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