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The first book in the new 2023 Blasta Books series, SOUP, out now

While recording an episode for season 2 of their Spice Bags podcast on the topic of soup, authors Blanca Valencia, Dee Laffan and Mei Chin realised that while they are all from completely different backgrounds, cultures and upbringings, soup is a common ground. But why soup?

The answer is that soup connects us all. Everyone is passionately opinionated about their soups. We can argue through the night about blended soups, cold soups, greens in our soups, clear soups and, ultimately, why our favourite soup is the very best. The soups we make say we miss our mothers, we want to travel, that the seasons are changing or that we are truly, deeply hungover. Soups define the stock from which we come.

Blasta Books #5: Soup takes you on a journey around the globe from the comfort of the communities within Ireland. The soups that Blanca, Dee and Mei have collected reflect individual cultures, memories and tastes, but they are also a reflection of Irish food today and the people behind it.


‘Blasta Books are to cookbooks what street food is to restaurants,’ says publisher Kristin Jensen. ‘They give people a fun, accessible and affordable way to eat exciting food.’

She continues, ‘The success of our first series – TacosHot FatThe United Nations of Cookies and Wok – shows that there is a real appetite for more stories and more types of food. These books are literally the voices, faces and food of modern Ireland.’

Each book is a hardcover, 72-page A5 cookbook illustrated by Dublin artist Nicky Hooper. They are all standalone books, but as a quarterly series they also provide a more inclusive snapshot of Ireland’s modern and diverse food culture, from tacos to tapas, spice bags to sushi. They are little books with big voices.

All the books are available to buy on, either individually or as a series bundle, in good bookshops and in independent retailers around Ireland. @blastabooks

Blasta Books #5: Soup by Blanca Valencia, Dee Laffan and Mei Chin (€15) is published on 26 January 2023 by Blasta Books (


Blanca Valencia is a cook, writer, speaker and podcaster. Born in Spain, she grew up in Central America and has lived and worked in the UK, China, France, Argentina, the US and now Ireland. She has a Grand Diplôme from London’s Le Cordon Bleu and an MA in Gastronomy from TU Dublin. Blanca passionately believes in diversity and education through food. @blancsvalencia

Dee Laffan is a freelance journalist and editor with over 15 years’ experience in the areas of food, drink and travel. Her business also includes digital content consultancy, working with clients from the hospitality industry to create and manage digital strategies, content and social media. Dee’s passion for Irish food has led her to many roles and she is a proud member of the Irish Food Writers’ Guild. @deelaffan

Mei Chin is a writer who was born in Atlantic City, New Jersey, grew up in Connecticut and lived in New York City and hence likes to think of herself as a tri-state lady. She now lives in Dublin. Mei was the 2005 winner of the James Beard MFK Fisher Distinguished Writing Award as well as the IACP Bert Greene Journalism Award for Best Culinary Writing in 2010 and 2013. She has also taught food writing at Yale University. @jiemeimeichin

Blanca, Dee and Mei are all co-hosts of the award-winning Spice Bags podcast: @spicebagspod

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