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A Warm Look at Italian Comfort Food

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

THE GLORIOUS SOUPS AND STEWS OF ITALY

By Domenica Marchetti

Chronicle Books, 2006, $19.95

77 recipes

AUTHOR Alexandria resident and former journalist Domenica Marchetti has been published in the pages of Cooking Light and Fine Cooking magazines and The Post's Food section. This is her first cookbook, which took her a year to write. Her family's cooking heritage, many happy trips to Italy and her natural affinity for the subject matter give the book depth and warmth.

FORMAT In "Glorious," there seems to be just enough, and not too much.

The design of the relatively slim paperback offers a soothing, charming Italian Zen.

The introduction is must reading, as it explains Marchetti's practicalities and preferences with straightforward ease. You'll learn, for example, that where a recipe calls specifically for one of her basic broth or sauce recipes, you should go by the book.

Sometimes, underpinnings that come from a can just won't do. Take the time to build her homemade meat broth (Brodo di Carne), and you'll be able to turn around the delicate poached egg soup from Pavia (Zuppa alla Pavese) in minutes.

Chapters are organized by seasonal bounty: late summer's roasted tomatoes and peppers, winter's hearty pots of veal and lentils. The recipes won't send you on treasure hunts for special ingredients.

Among the nice touches: a design that holds most recipes to a single page; the inclusion of recipes for crostini and other accompaniments; the four easy, seasonal crostata recipes that end "Glorious" on a sweet note; and the winning photographs of William Meppem, whose work we admire on the pages of Martha Stewart Living magazine.

SAMPLE TIP "Unless you have good well water or exceptional tap water, use either filtered tap water or spring water for making broths, soups and stews."

WHO WOULD USE THIS BOOK People who appreciate Italian cookery and the comfort and nutrition of a steaming bowl of soup. Cooks of all skill levels will find a page where they can jump in.

-- Bonnie S. Benwick

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