Nicole Pisani - head chef at Ottolenghi's Nopi turned head chef at a London primary school - is one of the most exciting food talents around today. In this vibrant and beautiful cookbook she shares a treasured collection of recipes influenced by the many countries she's cooked in and the many chefs she's cooked with.
Salt. Butter. Bones celebrates what each of these ingredients represent: taste, flavour and the essence of everything. Every recipe explores bold flavours and innovative pairings and yet retains an elegant simplicity - by treating each ingredient with the reverence it deserves.
On top of chapters on fridge and larder staples; breakfast with friends; what to cook at the end of the day; and feasts to share with loved ones, Nicole explains some of the most innovative techniques in cooking today, ones that she developed during her many years as a chef in London's top restaurants, making them adaptable for home-cooking.
Innovative and evocative, Salt. Butter. Bones is a is a celebratory cookbook that captures the elegance of simple ingredients, written by one of the most dynamic, inquisitive chefs around.
We are a chef (Nicole) and a writer (Kate), and we love soup. It takes us back to basics, to the essence of simple food for the body and soul. When you eat a really good bowl of soup, it puts you in a good frame of mind, and you know you’re nourishing your body, too. Making soup is like therapy: it’s relaxing, creative and generous.
For both of us, eating is emotional, and we think that’s a great thing. Food should be a source of passion, of delight. Nicole can tell how a person is feeling the moment she walks into their kitchen: whether they’re at one with their world or in need of a ‘kitchen cleanse’, in other words the cupboards are cluttered but lots of delicious ingredients are being forgotten and left unseen and unused in the corners. We can feel it, too, when we get trapped in unhealthy eating patterns and need to make a fresh start. For us, the first step is usually making a fresh soup to rekindle our desire for health and happiness.
‘How do we find the ingredients? We simply open our eyes and look around us. We take the materials that are at hand, right in front of us, and prepare the best meal possible. We work with what we have in each and every moment.’ Bernie Glassman & Rick Fields, Instructions to the Cook (1996)
Our aim is to show that cooking at home is the simple, unscientific but real life answer to healthy living. When you cook and eat from scratch, there’s very that isn’t good for you, in moderation at the very least; every recipe and every meal can have a little bit of magic in it. Depending on what we need and what we fancy, soup can be comforting, a quick lunchtime fix or a feast for the gods. As early as humans could build fires and make watertight pots, they made soups and stews with the ingredients they had to hand, and that tradition continues: Nicole will often make ‘everything left in the fridge’ soup, her own version of hunter-gathering, or an ode to Scotland with the Hotch Potch soup. Chicken soup makes us feel better when we’re poorly, while Spring miso or Kitchari is the perfect start to a healthy cleanse.
Cooking gathers people together, over the stove or at the table. It’s generous and giving, sitting and chatting is as nourishing as the food itself. There is a beautiful Latvian proverb, ‘a smile is half the meal’. And there are times when cooking is a way to get back to basics, taking a delicious healthy lunch to work in a thermos pot or roasting a few vegetables with herbs or spices and making simple soups for a busy week ahead.
Close your eyes and imagine everything you need for a good meal. Then make soup!