I’m a sucker for a good mnemonic.
“My Very Educated Mother Just Served Us Nine Pizzas” was the first one I ever learned. It’s a way of remembering the planets in our solar system, in order of proximity to the sun (Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and — you better believe it — Pluto).
My other favourite mnemonic is “King Philip Called Out for Good Soup.” That one’s for remembering taxonomy order (Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus, Species).
Which leads me (in a very roundabout way) to the topic of this column: soup. Not just any soup — good soup. Because January is International Soup Month, and if you need some inspiration in the soup department, we’re here for you.
We have an extensive cookbook collection at the library, full of classics and modern-day hits. Feeling adventurous? Check out Vegan Fake-Out for a hot and sour soup recipe that will “stimulate your taste buds and awaken your sense with a hit of fresh chili” or Chaat: Recipes From the Kitchens, Markets, and Railways of India for a Thukpa (Chicken Noodle Soup) recipe that “offers the same comforting aspects of chicken soup that we know and love, but with a fiery twist.”
Want to cook in concert with the land? Try the tomato and squash soup from Molly On The Range: Recipe Sand Stories From An Unlikely Life On A Farm. Or crack open Niqiliurniq: A Cookbook From Igloolik, and try making their Arctic Char Chowder: “a chunky, creamy, and hearty meal, a soul-warming soup.” Or you can head outdoors for some foraging once you’ve picked up Cooking Wild and discovered their Chilled Green Pea Soup with Purslane.
Looking to incorporate new ingredients? Try the meatball and chrysanthemum greens soup from Kim Thuy’s Secrets From My Vietnamese Kitchen, or the tomato matzo ball soup with pickled garlic chives from Modern Kosher: Global Flavors, New Traditions. You can also grab The Baja California Cookbook and try your hand at a historic recipe for Caguamanta — old baja turtle stew, made with skate wing (I don’t know what half those words means — and the other half I wish I didn’t know).
Cookbooks aren’t the only option we offer. We’ve also got wonderful cooking magazines, none better than Cook’s Illustrated, my favourite magazine of all time. We’ve also got an astonishing selection of e-magazines (accessible through the Libby app) that includes familiar ones like Bon Appetit and Saveur and Cooking Light, as well as niche titles like Paleo Recipes and Plant-Based Recipes and Simply Bread.
Need some cooking instruction? Our Gale Courses online learning platform offers cooking lessons. And if you want to teach your little ones how to cook, we’ve got a great selection of kid’s cookbooks downstairs to help you out.
Want to support the library? Buy a copy of our library cookbook, Pairings, on sale now for only $15!
And one last helpful tip: if you’re worried that you’ll show up at the library and have forgotten the names of all the cookbooks I mentioned in this article, just make up a short and simple mnemonic for VFCMOTRNCWSFMVKMKBCC.
Avi Silberstein is the children’s librarian at the Nelson Public Library. Check This Out runs every other week. If you’re interested in learning more about library programs and services, sign up for our monthly newsletter on our website or by giving us a call.