Soup for beginners – a bad idea, or a good one?

Update 2018: instead of writing a book on soup, I started a website to keep my own vegetarian and vegan recipes. It’s written for beginners and contains a handful of opinion pieces. I recently changed the domain from private to public and the images now need some re-work. But the recipes are still up and there are several for soup: Caroline’s Cookbook.

Inspired by the cook book workshop with Nell Nelson, I’m considering writing a cook book. I’m not looking for publication, it’s purely a test of my writing skills. These are my thoughts. Please let me know what you think.

  • Audience: absolute beginners. I’ll be writing for teenagers and young adults with little previous exposure to cooking and the kitchen.
  • Aim: I want to help beginners get to know their ingredients and get comfortable using them, hopefully encouraging them to experiment a bit.
  • Format: A downloadable PDF laid out so that recipes can be printed on an A4 sheet and used in the kitchen.
  • Distribution: My website and this blog. And any other website that wants it.
  • Chapters: Read this first – tools, techniques, ingredients (store cupboard and freshly bought); Now cook – basic soup recipe, followed by recipes for a variety of vegetable-based soups (carrot, leek & potato, red pepper, broccoli & stilton, spinach, onion, sweet potato).

It’s not a huge project, I have most of the recipes written down already and would mostly have to work on the Read this first chapter. It could, realistically, be done for the new year. The question is whether it should be done.

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About Caroline von Schmalensee

Cooking, eating and drinking is fun as well as necessary. I do food for fun and I write for a living. Good food makes the world a more delicious and satisfying place. Good writing, meanwhile, can make the world a less confusing place.


  1. This sounds great! Students just heading off to uni would be another great audience as soups are cheap, easy and don’t make much mess! I will definitely be having a look.

  2. Thank you for your comments! I think Tracey is right – if it’s mostly for my own pleasure – and it is – then I shold just do it. If it’s useful to someone else, then that’s a benefit and I’m glad Brenda and Kiki thinks it is a good idea. I’m going to have fun doing this one.

  3. I think it’s a great idea, especially if it’s published online and in a pdf format! I wish I’d had something like that as a teen when I started to get interested in cooking!!

  4. Yes please do publish. When parents try to encourage their teen kids to cook it’s always like hitting a brick wall. A third party might just get through and provide a path.

  5. Whether it is worthwhile might depend on whether you are doing it for yourself or for others….if for yourself, it sounds as if the writing and experience would be useful. If you feel you would enjoy it then go for it!

    If for others…do you know exactly who your target market is? And how you will reach them? Do you plan to offer anything unique or anything that could not be found in the likes of Silvana Franco’s student cook book, tiffany goodall’s forthcoming book or any nigel slater book, all of which have clear, easy to use descriptions of equipment, techniques and how to get started in the kitchen?

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