<B>Soup's on!</B> What's more inviting on a chill winter's night than a warm bowl of soup? The same can be said for a cup of cold soup on a hot summer's day. Soups can be simple, elegant, homey or eclectic, whipped up in flash or lovingly tended, ladled from a large tureen, or eaten from a scooped-out roasted acorn squash. The over 60 soups included in Paulette Mitchell's beautifully produced new book, <B>A Beautiful Bowl of Soup: The Best Vegetarian Recipes</B> represent this range of tastes and textures, without using meat, poultry or fish and losing only fat, not flavor. Her festive, sherry-spiked Wild Rice-Cranberry Soup delighted my guests, and I got raves for her comforting Cream of Tomato Soup, made glamorous by a puff paste crown. Many, such as Black Bean Soup, Fresh Pea Soup and Moroccan Chickpea Soup, are easy to prepare and just as easily dressed up with Mango Salsa, Parmesan Cream or Roasted Red Pepper Coulis. Paulette offers us a few stews too, including spicy Indian Cumin-Scented Coconut Milk Stew served with aromatic basmati rice and an earthy Mediterranean Saffron Stew, garnished with a garlicky rouille. Chilled summer soups and innovative dessert soups (who could resist Liquid Chocolate with Angel Food Croutons?) get their due, and helpful hints on how-tos and ingredients add to the overall excellence.

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