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Austin's latest offerings for a little kitchen reading

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The Soup Peddler's Slow & Difficult Soups: Recipes and Reveries

by David Ansel

Ten Speed Press, 181 pp., $16.95 (paper)

By now, many people in Austin are familiar with, or at least have heard of, the Soup Peddler, aka David Ansel. He is the guy who got tired of boring corporate jobs and decided to get back to basics. He began selling homemade soups to friends and neighbors, delivering his wares on a bicycle. Long story short, the success of his operation has landed him national media attention and a devoted cult following of "soupies" in Austin.

The latest of his accomplishments is this funny little cookbook, which to me is more like a memoir à la Slacker, with recipes for many of his favorite and most popular multicultural soups. The book captures the essence of the South Austin community of Bouldin Creek and recounts Ansel's road to becoming the Soup Peddler, with uniquely Austin stories of riding bikes, of skipping work for a dip at Barton Springs, of Leslie running for mayor, and of pet goats living in South Austin front yards.

While I have never met the Soup Peddler in person, we are nevertheless connected by the inescapable "6 degrees of separation" that makes Austin so ... well, Austin. Having lived in Bouldin Creek a long time ago, I am familiar with the streets, the coffee shops and restaurants, and the atmosphere he describes so vividly in the book. What's more, I personally know a few of the characters, and was happy to see my friend Conchis Villanueva credited for helping Ansel to develop his recipe for pozole.

When Bouldin Creek's transformation to a hipper-than-thou neighborhood is complete, reading Ansel's mishaps and snapshots of days gone by will continue to comfort us like a good bowl of soup.

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