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04/11/2011 04:01:53 PM · #1
My husband's birthday is coming up, and last week it occurred to me; soup. He loves to cook, and he loves soup. My thought is get a nice soup cookbook (or two) and a nice dutch oven. So, I've got a couple questions...

Any recommendations for soup cookbooks?

What's a good type of dutch oven? I was thinking of going for the porcelain enameled cast iron kind, but that's strictly because it feels more homey (not that my mother cooked in one...). Is there a better style? Brands? What's the difference between one that is $50 and one that is $150+?

04/11/2011 04:08:04 PM · #2
Personally, I would get a cast iron dutch oven, from a manufacturer such as Lodge. These are especially good on open fires and with coals, and you can't beat them for longevity. The only thing to concern yourself with cast iron is ensuring that it is seasoned appropriately and cleaned regularly - but not with soap!
04/11/2011 04:10:15 PM · #3
I also prefer the porcelain/cast iron type. If that's what you get, there shouldn't be too much difference between the models, perhaps the thickness of the porcelain, the weight of the iron, or maybe the handle shape or lid design.

If you go with another type, the difference betwen cheap and expensive pots is whether the heat-distributing element (usually aluminum) is only a disk on the bottom or whether it extends up the sides.

You might want to cruise over to America's Test Kitchen and check their product ratings, or go to your library and see if Consumer Reports has any recommendations.

ETA: I have a "straight" cast iron dutch oven, and the only problem with it for soups is that acidic components (e.g. tomato) will sometimes dissolve enough iron to give an unpleasant metallic taste to the food, and removing any seasoning. However, one of the benefits of regularly cooking in cast iron is that it does add to your daily iron intake, in which many people are deficient.

Message edited by author 2011-04-11 16:14:37.
04/11/2011 04:12:39 PM · #4
The difference is in the quality of the casting and the hardness and bonding of the enamel. Le Creuset is the gold standard, very expensive. Chasseur is very good, mid-range price. But by far the best value is Lodge Cast Iron; check them out. Good company.

R.
04/11/2011 04:18:28 PM · #5
I have both kinds and they are both great. I tend to use the non-enameled dutch oven for stews, beans, etc., and the enameled one for more liquid things like soups. Can't give you a good reason. The enameled one is also great as a jelly/jam pot. They tell you not to cook really acid food in the non-enameled pots, but I've done it and not had a problem. I've been using mine for over 40 years so they (I've got several) are really well seasoned, so that may be the answer.

As to the difference between the $50.00 enameled dutch over and the obscenely over-priced one at the Mall, check the weight. The heavier the better. A lot of times the cheaper ones will be really light and then they burn things.

FWIW, I saw some enameled cast iron dutch ovens at Cost Plus last week. They were nice and heavy and, so help me, I couldn't see the difference in quality between them and the ones selling for a lot more in the upscale kitchenware stores.

Added:

I just saw 21.gif Bear_Music's reply. I never knew that about the casting and the bonding. It's a good point that I hadn't considered. OTOH, there's the price difference... Your choice.

I absolutely agree with him on the Lodge Cast Iron. Their pots, griddles, dutch ovens, have to be the best bargain on the market. I love to go to garage sales and pick up old cast iron that some twit has put through the dishwasher and rusted. I just take it home, re-season it, and pass it on to deserving friends.

Message edited by author 2011-04-11 16:23:31.
04/11/2011 04:23:06 PM · #6
Sometimes I give the wife a nice Dutch Oven in bed. I think it's hilarious, but it pisses her off.
04/11/2011 04:24:19 PM · #7
Originally posted by Bear_Music:

The difference is in the quality of the casting and the hardness and bonding of the enamel. Le Creuset is the gold standard, very expensive. Chasseur is very good, mid-range price. But by far the best value is Lodge Cast Iron; check them out. Good company.

R.


I would also buy Lodge without a second thought. Lodge is carried by Target, oddly enough, and if they carry what you're after, their prices are hard to beat.
04/11/2011 04:29:01 PM · #8
Originally posted by Germaine:

I love to go to garage sales and pick up old cast iron that some twit has put through the dishwasher and rusted. I just take it home, re-season it, and pass it on to deserving friends.

The scrubbers made of small coils of stainless steel work great for removing that first layer of rust. I find following that with a heavy-duty ScotchBrite nylon scrubber leaves a really smooth finish. Most people don't realize that properly-seasoned cast-iron is practically non-stick; I can cook a big (12") pan of fried rice with only a teaspoon or two of oil in the pan.
04/11/2011 04:31:34 PM · #9
Originally posted by GeneralE:

Originally posted by Germaine:

I love to go to garage sales and pick up old cast iron that some twit has put through the dishwasher and rusted. I just take it home, re-season it, and pass it on to deserving friends.

The scrubbers made of small coils of stainless steel work great for removing that first layer of rust. I find following that with a heavy-duty ScotchBrite nylon scrubber leaves a really smooth finish. Most people don't realize that properly-seasoned cast-iron is practically non-stick; I can cook a big (12") pan of fried rice with only a teaspoon or two of oil in the pan.


I actually have two cast-iron woks... one cast-iron fry pan... three enameled, cast-iron dutch ovens in different sizes.

R.
04/11/2011 04:53:18 PM · #10
Originally posted by GeneralE:

Originally posted by Germaine:

I love to go to garage sales and pick up old cast iron that some twit has put through the dishwasher and rusted. I just take it home, re-season it, and pass it on to deserving friends.

The scrubbers made of small coils of stainless steel work great for removing that first layer of rust. I find following that with a heavy-duty ScotchBrite nylon scrubber leaves a really smooth finish. Most people don't realize that properly-seasoned cast-iron is practically non-stick; I can cook a big (12") pan of fried rice with only a teaspoon or two of oil in the pan.

You're missing out on the benefits of ingesting teflon. I haven't done any studies, but logic tells me that there would be huge health benefits if my stomach and intestines and arteries were lined with teflon. Hmmm, I might start working on a hybrid cast-iron stomach with a teflon lining. Signups for clinical testing will be posted shortly...
04/11/2011 05:10:57 PM · #11
Originally posted by GeneralE:

...Most people don't realize that properly-seasoned cast-iron is practically non-stick; I can cook a big (12") pan of fried rice with only a teaspoon or two of oil in the pan.


In fact, it's among the best non-stick surfaces available, and you can use metal utensils without worry. I've used a lot of modern non-stick pans, and I prefer well-seasoned cast iron.

Just last month I ran across an old bunch of five of small cast iron skillets ranging from 7 inches to about 10 inches. They were uuuuu-gly! Scrubbed 'em up, re-seasoned 'em, et voila! Gave a couple to our daughter, kept the rest.

If you think 12 inches is a big pan, I have a 16-inch monstrosity that still sees a lot of use. Great for cooking over a campfire. Weighs about 20 pounds. I've had it for about 35 years & someday I'll probably have to figure out who to pass it on to :-)

04/11/2011 05:14:24 PM · #12
Oh, cast iron is so much easier to use and makes cleanup easy.
Yes, you do miss out on the teflon taste and the cute little plastic paddles
sold with them. (although I did see an ad for a plastic spatula for cast iron to 'save' the pan)
They are indestructible - my 3 fry pans (different sizes), & dutch oven are at least 70 years old and maybe more.
Someplace down in the nether regions of my cupboards there's a cupcake 'tin' made of cast iron too.
04/11/2011 05:18:50 PM · #13
I also have a small (10") "grill" pan (with ridges) and a couple of pans for baking corn sticks (cornbread muffins in the shape of an ear of corn).
04/11/2011 05:31:52 PM · #14
Pretty much all of my cookware now is cast iron. Lodge is by far the best. I love when my brother cooks chili in the dutch oven. My mother used cast iron growing up, I've just got back into cooking with it and am realizing how much I missed it.
04/11/2011 05:36:30 PM · #15
I've got a monster dutch oven that I brought back from South America with me. I think it's probably about 15 liters or so. It used to see a lot of use when my kids and their scout troop went camping on the Llanos in southern Venezuela. Now my wrists are giving out, and I only use it when I have someone there to help me get it in and out of the oven, but if you have to make beef bourguignon or chile for a crowd, you can't beat it.
04/11/2011 05:38:21 PM · #16
Originally posted by sfalice:


Someplace down in the nether regions of my cupboards there's a cupcake 'tin' made of cast iron too.


That's something I'm looking for, actually. Maybe I'll charge you cupcake rent in Carmel :-)

R.
04/11/2011 05:40:20 PM · #17
My sister in law the nutritionist (the PHd kind not the GNC kind) told me that cooking acidic foods like tomato sauces in cast iron is an excellent source of dietary iron.

That said, for soups the 5 liter Le Creuset french oven is my fave. We got our set as a wedding gift over 30 years ago and they are a joy to cook with and will most likely outlast us. The weight of the pot distributes the heat very well to avoid hot spots on a low simmer.
04/11/2011 06:59:49 PM · #18
Originally posted by Strikeslip:

Sometimes I give the wife a nice Dutch Oven in bed. I think it's hilarious, but it pisses her off.


Yeah, I have that problem with a certain redhead too...but sometimes I get him back!! ;-)
04/11/2011 07:24:39 PM · #19
I have 3 Dutch ovens: a 6 qt oval Le Creuset, a 6 qt round anodized aluminum Calphalon (NOT teflon coated), and a 12 QT stainless steal. My favorite is the old Calphalon as I find a full pot of soup/stew in the Le Creuset is very heavy for me, but might not be for your husband, plus the Caphalon cleans up like a dream. I don't even think Calphalon makes their pots without a non-stick coating of some kind any more so I'm glad I bought a set when I did.
04/11/2011 07:55:34 PM · #20
Originally posted by Bear_Music:

Originally posted by sfalice:


Someplace down in the nether regions of my cupboards there's a cupcake 'tin' made of cast iron too.


That's something I'm looking for, actually. Maybe I'll charge you cupcake rent in Carmel :-)

R.

SUPER. If you really want it, and if I can find it, it's yours.
(There's only one very big if in there...)
04/11/2011 08:57:10 PM · #21
Okay, Bear, despite being distracted by those Decorah eagles and thus unable to stay concentrated on anything for more than seconds, I did manage to locate and dig out that cupcake/muffin thingee. Thanks to the white washing machine that is near my study/studio, I have pictures. Like the other cast iron items, this came to me (sigh, as a bride) in 1960 and was old then. I have never used the thing, therefore *you* get to clean it. (heh heh) Still want it? Of course you do. I wish I could find the corn-muffin tin that 1031.gif GeneralE describes. But that doesn't show up. Gave it away, probly.
Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_945904.jpg
04/11/2011 09:09:10 PM · #22
Take that in your carry on luggage on the way back home and get a free massage form the TSA.
04/11/2011 09:11:11 PM · #23
Dang it, Brennan, you made me laugh at an inanimate object again! Fortunately, my computer screen is not anthropomorphic, or it would laugh back.
04/11/2011 09:24:26 PM · #24
Originally posted by sfalice:

Okay, Bear, despite being distracted by those Decorah eagles and thus unable to stay concentrated on anything for more than seconds, I did manage to locate and dig out that cupcake/muffin thingee. Thanks to the white washing machine that is near my study/studio, I have pictures. Like the other cast iron items, this came to me (sigh, as a bride) in 1960 and was old then. I have never used the thing, therefore *you* get to clean it. (heh heh) Still want it? Of course you do. I wish I could find the corn-muffin tin that 1031.gif GeneralE describes. But that doesn't show up. Gave it away, probly.
Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_945904.jpg


I wonder if those are cupcake pans or popover pans. I sort of remember the mother of a friend of mine making popovers in something that looked like that.
04/11/2011 09:37:39 PM · #25
Originally posted by Germaine:

I wonder if those are cupcake pans or popover pans. I sort of remember the mother of a friend of mine making popovers in something that looked like that.


Popover pans for sure. Awesome! We'll take 'em! Mwah!

R.
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