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Vegan Soup’s On (But You Might Want To Leave It on the Stove)

Filed under: Books Recipes & Cooking

Why, if it isn’t an unimaginative exploitation of Vegetarian Soups for All Seasons! Say, how are you, my old friend? Vegan now, I see. And with an updated cover! What happened to all your milk and cheese? Just substituted soy, you say? Didn’t bother to change the recipes much or add too many, did you?

You know in college when you bought the fifth edition of Hamlet and then some blowhard added a new preface so you were required to purchase the sixth? Vegan Soups and Hearty Stews for All Seasons is kind of like that.

Not that I’m not completely grateful to have many of the recipes in this book. Nava Atlas—whose cheeky artwork gets a domestic girl giggling—offers some satisfying seasonal soups. But I think I’ve seen these before, perhaps four years ago, when I acquired the first edition. And though there’s certainly some value in getting another categorically vegan cookbook out there, this one doesn’t warrant the costs of printing and distribution when a perfectly good vegetarian edition is already available to those who know when to substitute rice milk for diary milk, and, more important, when not to.

One wonders whether Atlas is sensitive to that difference. See, for example, the most failing recipe in the book, the Macaroni and Cheese Soup. As we’ve all lamented, vegan cheeses generally fall into three categories: expensive, tolerable, and vomitty. (Cheezy-sauce, Isa and Terry-style, is a completely different phenomenon, but that’s not what this recipe calls for.) Atlas’s recipe suggests 1 ½ cups firmly packed cheddar-style non-dairy cheese. I used a category 2 vegan cheese, Follow Your Heart. Maybe this was my mistake. Whatever—this soup had a pungently nauseous flavor and a slimy, chunky texture. Worst of all, it wasted two whole cups of tiny shell pasta.

Abortive cheese substitutions aside, Vegan Soups contains plenty of reliable vegan recipes borrowed from its predecessor; nearly every soup that skips the non-dairy milk and cheese could be a staple year-round. The Buddha’s Delight Stew, a colorful Chinese cuisine-inspired mix of veggies and seitan, has kept me warm many a cold, dreary night. And you can’t go wrong with the Classic Gazpacho for hot, lazy afternoons.

If you already own a copy of Vegetarian Soups for All Seasons, leave the doppelganger on the shelf. Otherwise, save trees and snag the eBook.

5 Comments

  1. Comment by

    april

    on #

    What a snotty review. I am happy they wrote a NEW vegan edition. Good for them and pooey on you for being such a grouch. Take some B12 quick, it sounds like you need it!!

  2. Comment by

    blackcanary20

    on #

    Seriously, chill out. I’ve only been vegan for two years. Every time a new vegan cookbook is published, I get excited. Some of us wouldn’t have known about either version if they didn’t create this edition, and you can’t walk into Borders and buy a 10-year-old out of print cookbook. I’d rather have a book that doesn’t suggest cows milk or real cheese, even if it’s an obvious substitution. They’re not taking your old one away! Why beat up the latest version? Go criticize the Star Trek movie if you want to perpetuate stereotypes about unappeasable in-fighting subcultures. (Please excuse my infighting, I enjoy reading Supervegan)

  3. Comment by

    vegan_matt

    on #

    If a particular vegan cookbook is really just a lazily-rendered imitation of non-vegan recipes — and perhaps little more than a cynical attempt to sell cookbooks — then that can be detrimental to veganism. Taste and health do matter, especially when there are plenty of good vegan recipes out there. If an aspiring vegan or curious dabbler makes that mac and cheese soup and feels disgusting afterwards, that’s a problem.

    The reviewer plainly acknowledges the potential upsides of this cookbook, and makes a nuanced — and yes, bloggy — judgment of it based on her seemingly-extensive knowledge and experience. Whether or not you are relatively new to veganism, the negatives and positives should both be welcomed when deciding where to get your food/recipes from, and no one is asking you to do anything but decide for yourselves whether you buy the latest edition or not.

  4. Comment by

    kristin

    on #

    I have to agree with the reviewer. I was planning on buying the vegetarian version when this book came out so I bought the vegan version instead. Some of the recipes are great, but I really wish she’d just left out recipes like the mac n cheese soup. That recipe does not veganize well and could cause a poor new vegan to despair and turn back to cheese.

  5. Comment by

    Tracy

    on #

    I don’t know why these commenters are all on your butt about your review. I think this cookbook sounds mailed-in. If she really thought subbing in vegan style cheddar cheese would make for a delicious soup, she’s nuts. It seems like a quick edit that she pooped out for money. Which IS a bummer for vegan food.

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