Tunisian Soup with Bird Tongues, new books for the cook

When we moved here I realized that I had far too many cook books.

That didn’t stop me from acquiring more.

My collection is getting to be a bit eclectic. Most are in English, of course, but there are a few in Spanish and more then a few in French. I even have one book of Spanish recipes in French.

This recipe is based on one from a book called ‘cuisine de la médina’. The name of the soup, in French, is ‘Soupe tunisienne aux langues d’oiseau;.

Just so you know – the bird toungues are pasta, similar to orzo…. Not real bird tongues.

Tunisian Soup with Bird Tongues

Total time: 30 minutes


  • 3 cups (24oz, 720gr) whole tomatoes, puréed
  • 1/2 cup (4oz, 120ml) vegetable or chicken stock
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 rib celery, finely chopped
  • 1 medium carrot, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp powdered ginger
  • 1/4 cup orzo
  • 1 tbs parsley
  • 1 tsp basil
  • 1 small preserved lemon, peel only (discard pulp) 1/2 chopped, 1/2 sliced for garnish
  • 2 tbs Greek yogurt

Tunisian Soup with Bird Tongues


  • Sauté onion, garlic, celery and carrot in medium saucepan in olive oil over medium heat for 5 minutes.
  • Add tomatoes, stock, herbs, spices and bring to a boil.
  • Add pasta and cook 15 – 20 minutes, stirring often to keep it from sticking.
  • To serve: 
  • Ladle the soup into bowls. Top with a dollop of yogurt, sprinkle with sliced preserved lemon and serve.

Print Recipe

Another new cook book in my library is Cook’s Illustrated: The Science of Good Cooking.

I’ve only looked at the magazine a few times… It always seemed a bit dry to me.

This book, on the other hand is wonderful.

Oh, it’s still dry as dust, but the information is fantastic,

It’s all rather technical stuff but they explain it very well.

Things like why, and for how long, meat (steak, whole turkey, etc.) should rest; what salt does when added before, during or after cooking; how to properly poach an egg; which rice is best for risotto and more. It covers 50 different techniques / concepts / theories in all,

Most importantly, for me, is that the science or at least, the reason why is thoroughly tested and tasted and explained.

Like the one that drives me crazy every time I hear a chef say it: ‘Sear the meat to seal in the juices’.

They’re not putting glue on the meat….. how are they going to seal it? And don’t they ever look at what they’re cooking?

Searing adds flavor, yes, but it doesn’t seal anything.

Do copper bowls really make a difference for whisking eggs?

How much alcohol is left after cooking wine?

Is flambé just for show or does it really do something?

This is a great book for any kitchen nerd. It’s not something that you sit down and read cover to cover, but I find myself picking it up and getting lost for a bit more often than I should.

Maybe I should just read the whole thing and be done with it.

Oh – and there are recipes, too…. 400 of them.

BTW, I bought both books. Living on this side of the pond doesn’t get me free books to review like my US blogging friends. I only tell you about the ones I like.

15 thoughts on “Tunisian Soup with Bird Tongues, new books for the cook”

  1. Not fair, I skip reading if you’d warn it was about a cookbook I’d want to buy … and I was really looking forward to how/where you’d come up with bird tongues 😉 soup looks wonderful right now.
    Now I’ll try to forget Cook’s Illustrated: The Science of Good Cooking and avoid amazon for a week …

  2. So? Do copper bowls really make a difference whisking eggs? 🙂

    Soup sounds wonderful but I’m not sure where I’d be able to buy preserved lemons by me. Where we recently moved from, yes. But out here…I dunno. I do want to try this though. It looks delicious.

  3. Tanna, is really is a great book for anyone who wants to know what and why something works…. Sorry.

    I did, Heather – loved the lamb stew.

    Ina, if spring doesn’t come soon I may run out of soup. I’ll just have to make more…..

    nighstmusic, you can make them really easily – just lemons, water and salt. As to the copper bowls….Yes, they do make a difference (more volume, less ‘eggy’ flavor) but are not necessary.

  4. I have plenty of cookbooks too — not as many as you, though — but have pretty much stopped buying them. I feel like I have access to just about any recipe I could possibly want, and also don’t use recipes that much anymore. But sometimes I feel like I should sort through them, get rid of some, and start buying some more. I would hate to contribute to the demise of the cookbook.

    Tell us the truth — how many cookbooks do you have?

  5. Hi Kate….will try it on the Menu tonight…the local yokels down here in somerset would eat it even if they WERE real birds tongue…lol Ali

  6. Betty, too many… But I hate to get rid of any of them. I have some ‘series’ cook books I bought years ago in the US and some really old, turn of the century. They’re fun to page through just to see the changes. Sad to say, I can’t find my ‘Jello’ cook book…. more than 200 last count, which was years ago. Now I’m into ethnic and technical books

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