Local Big Red House Soup Publishes Cookbook

Local food entrepreneur Emily Pancer has been working hard over the last 6+ years on her business Big Red House Soup. She recently wrote and published her first cookbook and sat down with Boozy Burbs for some questions about the business, the book and future plans. The book is available exclusively on Amazon (Buy it Here).

Q: How long have you been making soups?
A: Almost seven years -It was a great run!

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Q: What/who inspired you?
A: At my second job out of college, we used to take our clients out to great restaurants. I got to go to many top restaurants in NYC and it totally opened my eyes to good food. After I had kids, I started a cake-making business. Since I was so busy working on elaborately-decorated cakes, I needed something healthy and dependable to feed my family. I used to make big batches of soup that we’d eat for days. Then one day I met a woman in my town who made pasta sauce and sold it to Whole Foods. The combination of those things sparked the idea, and I decided to change the direction of my business.

Q: What inspired the transition from selling soups to writing a cookbook?
I had moved the soup production to a co-packer. I was so happy not to have to cook it myself anymore. Making soup in huge batches is tiring, and I had been doing it for years! Unfortunately, with each batch of soup this co-packer produced for me, it tasted less and less like my soup. I couldn’t bear to sell a product that I considered sub-par, so I stopped having this company make it for me.

I felt bad that my customers who had supported me for all these years could no longer get soup, but I didn’t have it in me to go back to the kitchen and make it myself again. I was also sad to let this 4th child (as I sometimes called it 🙂 disappear as if it had never even existed. I thought this cookbook would be a great way of having BIG RED HOUSE live on forever and also a nice way for all the folks who loved the product to still be able to eat it.

Q: What was the process of writing the cookbook like for you?
A: Putting the cookbook together was very cathartic. I hadn’t made some of the soups in over a year and I loved cooking each one again. It was also really fun to think back to how and why I created each soup and what about it was most significant and memorable.

Q: How many recipes are in the book
A: 22 soup recipes and one Mac & Cheese (which is made with our Dairy-Free Veggie Bisque). I had to include that one because I think it’s the greatest invention/concoction EVER! Instead of the base being butter, milk and flour, the base is our Dairy-Free Veggie Bisque which is just carrots, cauliflower, onions and celery. It’s a healthier mac & cheese.

Q: Name your favorite three recipes.
A: *As I just mentioned, I’m obsessed with the Dairy-Free Veggie Bisque Mac & Cheese.

*I also LOVE the Veggie Chili. It’s so versatile. I make nachos with it, use it as a dip, add fresh avocado on top -the possibilities are endless. It was one of the soups I sold to stores, and every time I did an event it was always on my menu. I never get tired of it!

*The Clam Chowder -For various reasons, I never made it for my business, but the recipe in the book is awesome! It’s not too difficult to make and only contains about 1/3 of a cup of cream per quart. Each time I make it, every last drop gets eaten in my house -a true sign of one of my family’s favorites.

Q: Anything special in terms of ingredients that can make or break a soup?
1. Salt – If it’s under salted, the soup will be flavorless. (If you’re not a cook, you might not even realize that the reason your soup doesn’t taste good is because it doesn’t have enough salt). If it’s over salted, the salt is the only thing you’ll taste. Every recipe in the book has recommended amounts for salt and there are instructions for how to increase the salt in small increments.

2. Broth/water – If you’re making a ramen, the broth is the star. But I think with with vegetarian soup (at least the ones in our cookbook), the broth should have a supporting role. As I learned when the co-packer started producing the soup for me, the amount of broth/water you add to the soup can really make or break it. If you think the soup is too thick after it’s finished, you can always add more broth.

Q: Any special kitchen tools do you need to invest in?
A: You do not have to invest in these because I’ve given alternatives in the book. But I highly recommend a scale. If you want the things you cook to taste the same the from the first time you make them to the 20th time, get a scale. You’ll have a much higher likelihood of consistency from batch to batch. Also, an immersion blender is not very expensive and will make your life so much easier.

Q: Are there any soup-making “rules”?
A: It’s much easier and you’ll have better results if you prep/measure the ingredients in advance. The cooking term for this is “mise en place”. So be sure you have your “mise en place”!

Don’t rush the soup. It takes time to make a batch of soup. You do not want your beans or veggies to be crunchy (unless you’re making gazpacho) and you want to allow some time for all the flavors to come together.

Cook with all 5 senses! Taste it, touch it, smell it, look at it and listen to it! Your veggies should crackle when you first put them in the pot. When your veggies are cooked, you should be able to squish them in between your fingers. When you start to smell something in the oven, it’s usually done or close to being done. Give it a check when you start to smell it. Look to make sure your veggies aren’t burning or sticking too much in your pot. And of course, TASTE! If when you taste you haven’t yet added the salt, spoon a small amount into a cup or bowl and add a light sprinkle of salt.

Q: Where is the book sold online?
A: Exclusively at Amazon (Buy it Here)

Q: Will it be sold locally?
A: That’s TBD. We’ll see how it does on Amazon first and then go from there.

Q: Any other cookbooks in your future?
A: I love to cook and entertain in general so there may be a second edition coming. I make a mean chocolate chip cookie with a coveted secret recipe and I have lots of other recipes for easy family dinners and entertaining.

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