From bouillabaisse to borscht and on to the culinary outskirts of Brazil (feijoada), Sri Lanka (chicken lentil soup), Japan (shabu-shabu), and Cincinnati (a determinedly offbeat local chili). Clayton, author of several successful books on breads and pastry, is an indefatigable and much-traveled recipe-collector. In addition to the basic and obvious (stocks, Senate bean soup, clam chowder, beef bourguignon, Hungarian goulash), he turns up dozens of less familiar representatives of the soup-stew genre: tomato and pine-nut soup (something like a tomato-flavored liquid pesto), chicken soup with stuffed lettuce leaves, curried parsnip soup, Finnish beer soup. Yet the work as a whole is strangely uncoordinated and unconvincing. By no stretch of the imagination can it be called ""complete."" Clayton's taste is erratic: rich creamy purÃ‰es and other cream soups seem over-represented; seasonings are often heavy and unsubtle; garlic is used with enthusiasm in inappropriate contexts (New England clam chowder, Scotch broth, plain chicken stock). The basic stocks are not a very well-presented lot, and packaged broths and bouillon cubes are surveyed with a welcoming eye. Despite its narrower focus, Jeannette Seaver's inexpensive, unpretentious Soups is a far more intelligent guide.