Relish Soups, Stews & Chilis Recipe Collection

Autumn is my favorite time of year, especially in the kitchen. I’m happiest standing over a pot of soup, stirring gently with my favorite wooden spoon. Arriving home to the inviting aroma of a meaty stew simmering in the slow cooker makes the seasonal change to colder, darker days more bearable. Cooking a big pot of chili is reason enough to have friends over for an impromptu party. I’m always looking for new recipes to try and so I was delighted to find Relish Soups, Stews & Chilis Recipe Collection.

Relish Magazine is known for practical, flavorful recipes created with ingredients that are seasonal and accessible to the masses. The magazine’s colorful, mouth-watering food photos are eye-catching and inspiring. How does America’s largest food magazine taste on the iPad? Keep reading to find out.

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Getting Started

The introductory screen of Relish Soups, Stews & Chilis is warm, inviting and beautifully designed. I like how it’s not just about the food — a photo of friends gathering around the soup pot really sets the tone for autumn entertaining. Every detail comes together to set high expectations: the thoughtful typography, styling and professional food photography. I’m hoping for more than recipes: I’m hoping for an aspirational experience.

The app intro is warm and inviting, setting the tone wonderful autumn meals with friends.

The app intro is warm and inviting, setting the tone wonderful autumn meals with friends.

The next screen is a bit of housekeeping — the standard magazine tutorial on how to navigate the app. The focus on good, useful design in the tutorial is appreciated and users can quickly get to know the app without being bogged down by excessive text. The Contents screen, however, falls flat. In an effort to keep things looking sleek, modern and simple, they have gone too far.

The Contents screen is the home screen for the app where you can find all the recipe collections.

The Contents screen is the home screen for the app where you can find all the recipe collections.

This is effectively the home screen and it should be enticing, creating a sense of anticipation. It should make me desperately want to know more, but it doesn’t. This is mobile, not a one-dimensional print magazine, and it would be nice to see Relish take advantage of all the functionality mobile offers.

The Collections

The app has three recipe collections: Soups, Stews and Chilis, all presented in the same fashion. I tap Soups to find an introduction that doesn’t say much but still manages to take up half the screen. The rest of the screen is filled with small photos of each dish, along with the recipe title. It’s visually underwhelming, and I can feel my enthusiasm for the app waning.

Each recipe collection has an intro and features thumbnail photos of every dish for you to choose from.

Each recipe collection has an intro and features thumbnail photos of every dish for you to choose from.

I find 18 soups, 12 stews and 8 chilis, which I believe is a nice selection of quality recipes for the cost of the app. Each category features a good variety of cuisines and flavors to keep things interesting. Soups feature interesting dishes like Pho and Red Lentil Soup plus classics to add to your repertoire like Italian Wedding and French Onion. The recipes often include an interesting twist, like Winter Minestrone Soup with wheat berries instead of your usual pasta or potatoes.

The collection of stews is especially interesting, with bold, global dishes from African Peanut Stew to Posole to Italian Fisherman’s Stew.

The collection of stews is especially interesting, with bold, global dishes from African Peanut Stew to Posole to Italian Fisherman’s Stew.

The app is easy to navigate, but not very immersive. Prominent icons make it a snap to jump in and out of recipe collections and it’s nice to be able to swipe left and right through the recipes as well. The collection of stews is especially interesting, with exotic recipes like African Peanut Stew and Cioppino. As the rain pelts my window and the wind howls, Belgian Beef and Beer Stew seems almost irresistible.

I would be hard-pressed to think of eight chili recipes, but Relish has succeeded with fresh takes on the old classic, from healthier Chicken Chili to the intriguing Dried Cherry Chili.

I would be hard-pressed to think of eight chili recipes, but Relish has succeeded with fresh takes on the old classic, from healthier Chicken Chili to the intriguing Dried Cherry Chili.

It’s nice to see that even though Relish seeks to appeal to the masses, the app doesn’t shy away from bold flavors. The chilis are no exception. I would be hard-pressed to think of eight different chili recipes, but Relish has done it, managing to surprise and delight with fresh takes on the old classic. Three of the recipes are vegetarian and I like how the dishes incorporate unusual ingredients like lentils, heirloom beans, bulgur and dried fruits.

The Recipes

I select a recipe and the photo enlarges to fill the screen. Recipes are displayed on what looks like a traditional recipe card, and Relish enthusiastically announces, “This tablet collection is made for cooking” with large type size that’s easy to read. It is easy to read, but I don’t find any of the usual cooking utilities other apps feature: no timers, shopping lists, bookmarking or search function.

Tap on a recipe and the photo enlarges to fill the screen.

Tap on a recipe and the photo enlarges to fill the screen.

Each recipe includes calorie counts, which is helpful for users on a special diet plan. It would be nice to be able to filter all recipes by calories or dietary labels, like vegetarian, at the very least.

Recipe instructions are bare bones, displayed on a traditional recipe card.

Recipe instructions are bare bones, displayed on a traditional recipe card.

I do appreciate how Relish keeps the cooking simple and straightforward without sacrificing flavor. They introduce exotic-sounding dishes in a totally accessible way, encouraging us all to try something new. It’s not your everyday collection of tried-and-true classics, which could be a bit boring. Instead the app offers familiar dishes with a modern twist, be it an unusual grain or imported beer.

Conclusion

Relish Soups, Stews & Chilis Recipe Collection includes 38 dishes to add to your autumn repertoire. It’s a simple, straightforward app that could do with an injection of fun and whimsy. In all fairness to Relish, I believe this is their first recipe collection app (released in early 2013).

They have since released two more collections: Relish Supper Club Menus and 25 Dinners on a Diet, which seem to have evolved in design. It’s interesting that those two apps are free but this collection costs $1.99. If you’re looking for a few good recipes for this fall and winter and nothing more, that’s exactly what you’ll get with Relish Soups, Stews & Chilis Recipe Collection.


Summary

Relish Soups, Stews & Chilis Recipe Collection is a simple, straightforward cooking app featuring 38 recipes.

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