Working with John on Happy Soups was so much fun it almost didn’t feel like work. We have some friends in common but we met properly because he came across two books I had written, one about food in Istanbul and another on food in the Greek Islands. From the books, I think he could tell we had a similar sensibility about food and shared the same tastes in ingredients and cooking styles too. As it turned out, writing Happy Soups together was as organic a process as we both hoped it would be – I don’t think we had a single artistic disagreement.

When it came to choosing which soups to include, we looked back at the archive of LEON menus and took some inspiration from there – things like the Sicilian meatball and pasta soup were inspired by actual LEON menu items. But we also went around the world in our quest for really delicious soups, so we’ve got dishes based on Korean soups, for example, as well as lot of Italian, Middle Eastern and Indian recipes. Being a LEON book, we wanted to make sure we included as many plant-based recipes as possible and the majority are very quick and easy to put together, although we did include some more luxurious classics, like bouillabaisse or a proper bisque. The book’s chapters reflect that – the Naturally Fast chapter is for when you need to make something speedily, but you don’t want to compromise on flavour or quality of ingredients; Bright and Fresh soups are perhaps the least wintery in the book; and Sweet opened both me and John up to pudding possibilities – I kind of wish I hadn’t discovered how easy (dangerously so) it is to make chocolate soup and brioche croutons…

For me, there’s nothing better than pottering in my kitchen, playing with recipes, so the development process was a real pleasure. My freezer was absolutely groaning with tupperware boxes full of soup by the end though…I had so much soup on the go that I treated various of my neighbours to surprise soup deliveries, which given that it was the depths of winter, I think (and hope!) they were pleased to receive.

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Happy Soups