Ken Haedrich has always been the kind of cook that home cooks like. His recipes are warm and cozythe sort that inspired the name "comfort" food. His cookbooks are filled with dishes made for the family supper tablesoups, breads, salads and pies.
As a boy growing up in New Jersey, Haedrich spent hours in the kitchen with his mother while she cooked, but the real hands-on experience came later. It was his stint in the Seabees, the Navy unit that builds bases and paves runways, that was the launching pad for his food writing career.
At his first assignment on Diego Garcia, an island off the tip of India, Haedrich was part of the team that mixed mortar and built concrete block walls for the barracks. "It was backbreaking work in 100 degree heat," he says. At his next station in Guam, he did some writing for the base paper and discovered how satisfying it was to cook for people. "When the other guys went out for beer, I got a big charge from staying back and making the meal," he says.
After the Seabees, Haedrich ventured into cookbook writing. His first project, a 48-page self-published paperback with vegetarian recipes, was printed on his brother's printing press.
In 1980, Haedrich moved to New Hampshire and worked as a cook at a school for special needs children. "I was cook and bottle washer," he says. "For five years, I cooked three meals a day for 40 to 50 people and had a great time." This broad culinary experience also gave him the confidence to pursue larger cookbook projects.
Always one of his favorites, soups are the subject of his book Soup Makes the Meal. "They are so satisfying and I love to cook them," he says. In the book, every soup is part of a seasonal menu and is accompanied with salad and bread.
"Autumn is the height of hot soup season," he says. "The soups tend to be colorful, bold, hearty and varied. The possibilities are rich and delicious."
Recipes reprinted with permission from Ken Haedrich's Soup Makes the Meal (Harvard Common Press, 2001).
Books by Ken Haedrich
- Apple Pie Perfect: 100 Delicious and Decidedly Different Recipes for America's Favorite Pie
- Country Baking: Simple Home Baking with Wholesome Grains and the Pick of the Harvest
- Country Breakfasts: Four Seasons of Cozy Morning Meals
- Pie: 300 Tried and True Recipes for Delicious Homemade Pie
- Feeding the Healthy Vegetarian Family
- Home for the Holidays: Festive Baking with Whole Grains
- The Maple Syrup Cookbook
- Simple Desserts
- Soup Makes the Meal