Curried pumpkin soup is adapted from "The Soup & Bread Cookbook," by Beatrice Ojakangas. (Hector Sanchez/MCT)
Curried pumpkin soup is adapted from "The Soup & Bread Cookbook," by Beatrice Ojakangas. (Hector Sanchez/MCT) ( HANDOUT )

There is nothing wrong with chicken noodle soup. Or cream of tomato. I love them both.

But there's so much more to sip from your spoon on a chilly day -- think ginger-carrot, Dutch cheese or a root-vegetable chowder. And there's no one better to teach us how to make it than Minnesota food writer Beatrice Ojakangas, author of "The Soup & Bread Cookbook" (Rodale, $23.99, 308 pages).

She praises the simplicity of that most basic meal -- bread and soup -- which can be found in one form or another in kitchens around the world.

That nourishing bowl has a way of transforming us. You have to slow down to eat soup. You have to be mindful of your actions or you may spill the contents as the spoon follows the arc from bowl to mouth. It might as well be the "be and breathe" of dining.

And then there's the bread. Ojakangas likes to pair individual soups with specific breads or crackers. "It makes it a little more interesting," she says. "You want the two to match flavor-wise and texture-wise. And they have to be ready at the same time. That's the upshot of it."

She makes it easy for the cook by organizing her recipes by season. A spring pea soup calls for a chive-dill batter bread and an autumnal curried chicken wild-rice soup pairs with oatmeal bread. There are familiar soups as well as surprises, but even the classics have had their flavors ratcheted up for today's taste buds.