Sorrento Soup (adapted from Smart Shopper’s Cookbook, 1972)

Sorrento Soup is a hearty tomato-vegetable soup perfect for a crisp, autumn weeknight, one of a dozen or so excellent soups in Loyta Wooding’s 1972 Smart Shopper’s Cookbook.  While ostensibly written for budget-conscious homemakers in the face of rising food prices, Mrs. Wooding’s background at Betty Crocker kitchens lends a sense of company-friendly sophistication to many of the recipes.   It’s delightfully old school in its view of family life.  Women are the de facto cooks, and inhabit a world filled with entertaining and the boss coming home for dinner.   Recipes are hearty, healthy, and elegant.  Smart Shopper’s Cookbook saves you money, but hides your penny-pinching ways from your neighbors.

Mrs. Wooding provides no context for the soup’s name.  The recipe bears some vague Italian-American sensibilities but the coastal town of Sorrento is better known for seafood.  There’s also the old  Sorrento Hotel in Seattle famous for its creamy tomato soup, to which Mrs. Wooding’s recipe bears almost no resemblance.  As with Soup Bagdad and Bulgarian Stew, we’ll have to chalk the name up to Mrs. Wooding’s imagination.

And it certainly sounds better than vegetable-frankfurter soup which is, superficially, what Sorrento soup is.   Frankfurters don’t exactly scream gourmet and vegetable soup on its own can be pretty boring.  Sorrento Soup makes up for this with a rich and sweet beef broth and onion backbone, much like a good French onion soup.   Add to that an uncommon variety of veggies, including green beans and lima beans, and a teaspoon of sage and you’ve got a warm and varied soup that’s greater than the sum of its parts.  I’ll admit to breaking my own rules and substituting a good quality smoked sausage (Zenner’s brand) for the frankfurters.  Not some off-the-wall gourmet brand or any fancy flavor.  Just a locally made sausage with a coarser grind than your average Oscar Mayer wiener.

If I had to speak for my family I’d give this an eight out of ten. Everyone appreciated the thick stick-to-your-ribs feel to it, especially for a nominally vegetable-forward soup.  Serve this soup as an entree with crackers or whole grain bread.   This is also a great soup for dipping a grilled cheese sandwich.  Enjoy!

Sorrento Soup

Sorrento Soup (adapted from Smart Shopper’s Cookbook, 1972)

  • Preparation: 1 h 15 min
  • Cooking: 15 min
  • Ready in: 1 h 30 min
  • For: 6 main dish servings
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  1. In a large stock pot or dutch oven bring water to a boil. Add lima beans and salt. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes.
  2. Peel carrots and cut into large chunks. Slice onions thin in full rings. Slice celery and chop green beans into 1 inch pieces. Add vegetables, bouillon, and canned tomatoes to soup and simmer uncovered for 20-30 minutes, stirring every few minutes.
  3. Slice smoked sausages. Add sausages and herbs to soup and simmer until sausages are warmed through and carrots are tender. If you can't abide a thick soup thin with a little bit of hot water or beef broth.

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