So You Want To Be A Waiter

The best book on waiting tables that you have never read – yet

Tag Archives: soup

Cookbook of the day – Cooking Under Cover

Cooking Under Cover: One Pot Wonders — A Treasury of Soups, Stews, Braises, and Casseroles

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin (September 21, 1998)

ISBN-10: 0395935210

ISBN-13: 978-0395935217

This book is exactly what it pretends to be – a compendium of soups, stews, braises and casseroles. It’s nice to have all of those categories in one place instead of having to plow through many different cookbooks to find what you need.

You won’t find cutting edge cuisine here. There is some variety with different cuisines, but most of the recipes are what you’d expect – stick-to-the-rib savory dishes that even your grandmother would enjoy. You have dishes like Chinese style Tea Smoked Scallops as well as Nana’s Chicken Fricassee. But you also have some semi-exotic dishes such as Choueroute Garni (Braised Alsatian Sauerkraut & Pork) and Pot Stickers with Cabbage, Scallions & Carrots.

I really like this volume because it’s well-spoken and well-thought out. It will help you expand your thinking when you need to deliver a family-style one pot meal (it would be particularly useful for offering an addition to either the Thanksgiving or holiday table).

As this book might be difficult to find locally, I’ve included a link where multiple copies can be bought (I have no connection to the vendor).

Amazon also has it as well.

BTW, Amazon is selling the paperback edition printed by Houghton Mifflin but I have the original hardback edition published by Chapters Publishing Ltd, a small Vermont publisher. If you can get the hardback for a price similar to the softback, I’d spring for it. It’s got a good heft and feel to it.

Photo courtesy of Bed, Bath and Beyond.

Warning the guest without dissing the chef, the kitchen, or the food

The other day, we had a soup de jour that had a very profound and prominent herb. To be fair, this herb was actually part of the name of the soup. To be additionally fair, it’s not one of my favorite herbs in and of itself, although I certainly appreciate the appropriate use of it. And finally, everyone knows what it tastes like, so it’s not like it’s an exotic ingredient or anything.

However, I thought it was way over the top, especially since it was the only obvious seasoning component other than salt and pepper.

So how does one communicate this without trashing the restaurant’s product? Here’s how I did it.

I gave the name of the soup and said, “The (X-herb) is very prominent in the soup. If you like (X-herb), you’re going to love it.  However, if you’re ambivalent about (X-herb) or dislike it, you should try our other soup. And, just so you know, I’m a little sensitive to this herb, so take what I say with a grain of salt”.

You notice that I haven’t run down our own product or questioned the ability of our chef or our kitchen. As a matter of fact, it might have been a really great soup for most people. But I did my due diligence by tasting it, I formed an opinion, and I was able to communicate that opinion my guests in an appropriate fashion and also cover my ass if they didn’t like it.

Things I considered (and discarded) were:

“Man, this soup sucks! It’s like chewing on a pine tree”.

“Are you kidding me? I wouldn’t feed this swill to Saddam Hussein”.

:sound of random gagging noises:

“It would make a good disinfectant”.

“It’s the smell of clean”.

“I hate the waste of a perfectly good chicken”.


Cookbook of the day – Splendid Soups


Splendid Soups: Recipes and Master Techniques for Making the World’s Best Soups

by James Peterson

Publisher: Wiley (September 22, 2000)
ISBN-10: 0471391360
ISBN-13: 978-0471391364
Once again, I don’t have the most current edition of this book. I have the 1994 edition, which clocks in at 100 less pages than this new edition. Mine has a different cover as well:



I’m assuming that Peterson has added some modern variants of classic soups, as he has presumably done with the updated edition of his Sauces book that I reviewed yesterday. This could be considered a companion edition to Sauces, but even this earlier edition has a wider scope than Sauces, with non-Western ingredients such as bonito flakes, Udon noodles, miso, and various soups from the Far East and other places included in this edition. You’ll find soups from India, Japan, Morocco, Thailand and other far-flung corners of the globe.

This is another of Peterson’s “reference” works. As such, you won’t find a single photograph. It’s all recipes, tips and techniques. Some recipes are for intermediate or advanced cooks, but even the beginning cook can find a lot of practical advice on soup-making that will help them move past the basic into the more advanced levels of cooking.

If you have Peterson’s Sauces, this should sit next to it on your bookshelf.