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Currently Reading

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Just finished The Letter by Kathyrn Hughes. It’s a very intricate tale. At first it’s about Tina, a battered wife [at which point I paused and wondered if I wanted to read any further, but I’m glad I did]. She tries to get the courage to leave her husband. Then enters the letter she finds in a suit pocket in the thrift shop where she volunteers. It’s old – sealed and stamped, but never mailed. Then you learn about Crissie, decades earlier, a young pregnant girl who is sent off to Ireland to a distant relative by her father, then to a rigid (meaning horrible) convent [the book takes place mostly in Manchester, England and in rural Ireland]. The letter is addressed to her. Jump forward decades and William, the adopted child Crissie gave up, tries to find his birth mother. William meets Tina in Ireland [a serendipitous moment] as she’s trying to find the woman to whom the letter is addressed. This book is the #2 best seller on Amazon at the moment. It’s a riveting tale and I really enjoyed it.

Read Grace Unshakled, by Irene Huising. From Amazon’s page, it says: “In the year 2025, 17-year-old Grace Duncan finds herself in shackles because of her faith in Christ. An obedient daughter and stellar student, doing time in jail was never on her mental radar, despite the changes in religious laws [this takes place here in the United States] over the past few years. Through twists and turns in circumstances, Grace and a small band of Christians in Newport Beach, California begin a journey to discover what it means to follow Christ with unwavering faith in the midst of increasing persecution. Facing the potential loss of all her hopes and dreams, would Christ be enough?” We read this for one of my book clubs, and it’s a scary thought about what it could mean if we take God out of our country. The author is a friend of a friend and she attended our book club meeting to share about how she came to write this book. I don’t often share my faith here on my website, but this book made me stop and think about the direction our government is going, removing more and more our ability to worship God. Or to worship in any religion. Will this book ever make waves in the book world? Probably not. My copy may be a pre-edited version, as it contained numerous typos and formatting errors. But they didn’t detract from the subject, just the cosmetics. The book doesn’t come to a resolution; in fact it leaves you hanging, as some books do. It was intentional (obviously), but left me wondering about the “end of the story.”

Also just finished reading The Muralist: A Novel by Shapiro. It tells the story of a young woman, an artist, who was part of the U.S.’s WPA mural project from the 1930s-40s (she is fiction, the WPA is not). As with so many artists, even today, they live in abject poverty through much of their lives. This woman, though, had family in France, desperately trying to escape before Hitler’s henchmen rousted them into concentration camps. The story, a bit of a mystery but not of the mystery-genre, is about Alizée Benoit, this young painter, who slightly captivates Eleanor Roosevelt’s help. It also skips into current time when the painter’s great-niece uncovers paintings she believes were painted by her aunt. The painter had disappeared into thin air in 1940, and her relative tries desperately to find out what happened to her. It’s a really good story including such Abstract Expressionist painters as Mark Rothko, Jackson Pollock, and Lee Krasner well-woven into the narrative. It keeps you guessing right up to the end. A good read. The author also wrote The Art Forger: A Novel a few years ago.

Read The German Girl: A Novel by Correa. It chronicles the story of a wealthy German Jewish family in Berlin, as the Nazis arrive and make life a living hell. The family is lucky (I guess you could say this) to be allowed to purchase passage on the M.S. St. Louis, a passenger liner, to take them to “the Americas.” The destination is actually Cuba. The story is told from two voices – the teenage daughter in this story, and from a current-day distant family member who is trying to learn about her ancestry. Of the 900+ passengers on the ship, only a few were allowed to disembark since the Cuban President decided he needed more money to accept them. Most families had no money left, as the Reich had taken nearly all of their assets. The daughter and her very eccentric mother were allowed to stay in Cuba.  The remaining passengers are rejected by the U.S. too, and eventually return to Europe, where most of the Jews end up dying in concentration camps. The story goes back and forth from the 1939 journey to current day as the link between the two women is slowly revealed. I had a tough time sometimes, tracking the people in this book, but the story was very riveting. It’s based on facts about the ship (see Wikipedia link above if you’re interested). A shameful chapter in history.

Recently finished reading a magnificent historical novel. Not new. Philippa Gregory has been a favorite author of mine for a couple of decades. You may remember her most famous book, The Other Boleyn Girl, published some years ago. I thought that was a really great book. I’ve read other books by Gregory, but most recently I read The King’s Curse (The Plantagenet and Tudor Novels). The time period is the 1450s to 1541, mostly under the rule of King Henry VIII, the infamous womanizer and wife/Queen-killer. The man who cursed Rome (the Pope) – he wanted his first marriage annulled because Queen Catherine couldn’t produce a living male heir. And subsequently made himself the head of the church in England in order to do so. It was a Catholic country at the time. This story (it’s fiction, but woven with intricate historical detail) is from the voice of Margaret of York (a lady-in-waiting to Queen Catherine),  who was a Plantagenet in her own right (which is key to the later events in the book). Certainly I’ve read other novels over the years that dealt with Henry VIII, but not with this much breadth of info. What a wicked, sinful man he was. And did I say tyrant. Wow.  I could hardly put it down, through its nearly 600 pages. In the author’s notes at the end, she shares relatively recent medical info that suggests Henry probably suffered from a rare problem, Kell positive blood type, which can cause miscarriages, stillbirths and infant deaths IF the mother has the more common Kell negative blood type. And that in his later years, he may have had McLeod syndrome, a disease only found in Kell positive individuals. Around the age of 40 it causes physical degeneration and personality changes resulting in paranoia, depression and irrational behavior. All of those King Henry VIII had in spades. If you read the book, you might read the author’s notes (at the end) before reading the book. If you like historical fiction (I love any book about English history) you’ll just love this one. It’s interesting, though, as I think about the many books I’ve read covering this era in English history, that each book presented its hero/heroine as the most innocent and worthy individual vying for the crown of England. I remember thinking Anne Boleyn was dealt with so badly during her life (and certainly her beheading), and yet reading this book, I completely reversed my opinion. Anne Boleyn was called a wh–e by most people during the years she shared Henry’s bed. The “curse” from the title pertains to Henry’s inability or the curse on the Tudors, that caused him to fail in producing a male heir. In any case, none of Henry’s wives should have died for it – likely it was all Henry’s fault anyway. Just read this one, okay?

Also recently read News of the World: A Novel by Paulette Jiles. One of my book-reading friends said this is one of the best books she’s ever read in her life. That kind of praise required me to read it and I just LOVED it. It’s about an old man (a widower), who was a former military captain, during the 1800s, who goes from town to town to read out loud the current news of the world (yes, there WAS such a free-lance job.) Newspapers didn’t make it to small towns back then. By chance he’s asked to take a 10-year old girl to East Texas to reunite with relatives. The child had been captured by an Indian tribe as a baby (her family was killed in the raid), raised by the Kiowa and as was often the case of such children, she wants nothing to do with leaving. So the “hero” in this story has his hands full. And yet, they learn to trust each other on the journey. Reaching the destination, there are lots of complications (of course!). This book is truly a wonderful read – I didn’t want it to end. The author has a gift of description and the severe dangers and difficulties of an old (wild) west horse and wagon journey. The relationship is tender. Now I’ve got to investigate the author’s other books, of which there are many. Just read this one first!

Tasting Spoons

My blog's namesake - small, old and some very dented engraved silver plated tea spoons that belonged to my mother-in-law, and I use them to taste my food as I'm cooking.

Scroll down to the bottom to view my Blogroll

Recipes highlighted in red are some of my favorites. The soup recipes are divided up in several sections. Click on the title below to go to that section. Cold soups are under the last section – “other.” A few soups are listed in two places (like carb and vegetable if they contain both). I also did a post about the soup bases I use from Penzey’s. I couldn’t make such great soups without the base to enhance the flavors. You’ll find cold soups mixed in amongst the categories – look for “cold” or “chilled” in the title.

Beef Soup!

Beef Cheesy Macaroni Stoup (Rachel Ray’s blend of stew and soup)
Poblano Albondigas with Ancho Chile Soup
Taco Soup (great for a crowd)
Tuscan Chicken Soup (I know, it’s really beef, but that’s what the Italians call it!)
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Carb Soups (predominantly beans, grains, potatoes, etc.)!

Apple Parsnip Soup
Bacon, Black Bean and Sun Dried Tomato Soup
Black Lentil (Urad Dal) and Ham Soup
Butternut Squash Bisque
Butternut Squash Soup with Amaretti Cookies
Butternut Squash Soup with Jalapeno and Ginger
Carrot & Ginger Soup with Lime
Carrot Soup with Tarragon and Orange
Chicken & Vegetable Avgolemono Soup (a Greek lemony soup)
Grilled Corn and Potato Chowder
Lentil Soup (my dad’s recipe)
Lentil Soup with Indian Flavors
Mexican Corn Soup with Chicken, Bacon & Chips
Red Lentil Mexican Stew
Roasted Butternut Squash Soup with Apples
Senate Bean Soup
Smoky Potato Soup with Bacon and Croutons
Soupe au Pistou (a French vegetable, bean & pasta soup plus a basil pesto on top)
Spicy Lentil Soup (with a ham bone)
Split Pea Soup with Ham, Pancetta and Peas
Tepary Bean Soup with Ham and Tomatoes (made with Rancho Gordo mail order beans)
White Bean and Chicken Sausage Soup (a dry soup) with Kale
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Chicken Soup!

Avocado-Corn Chowder with Chicken (chilled)
Chicken Hamburgese
Chicken Noodle Soup (not traditional – it’s made with orzo)
Chicken Posole (a riff on the traditional pork posole)
Chicken Posole (another riff, easy)
Chocolate Chicken Chili Soupmade in slow cooker
Chicken Tortilla Soup – made in slow cooker
Coconut-Lime Turkey Rice Soup
Cream of Chicken Soup with Fennel
Creamy Mushroom Soup with Turkey Meatballs
Italian Wedding Soup
Lemon Chicken Soup with Orzo (a thick stick-to-the-ribs style)
Lemony Chicken and Orzo Soup (a more broth-based soup)
Mexican Fideo and Chicken Soup
Moroccan Chicken & Chickpea Soup with Apricot Couscous
Moroccan Harira Chicken Soup
Mulligatawny Soup (a mild curry soup)
Mulligatawny Soup (Croce’s, San Diego)
Southwestern Turkey Chili
Thai Chicken Chile Soup
Turkey Cranberry Soup
Turkey Burger Chowder (with a topping of dill pickles & mustard)
Turkey Meatball Soup with Ginger, Garlic & Cilantro
Turkey Tortilla Free-Form Soup
White Bean and Chicken Sausage Dry Soup with Kale
White Chicken Chili
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Fish and Shellfish Soup!

Cauliflower Soup with Seared Scallops
Fish Chowder with a Thai Twist
Fish Soup Provencal
Salmon Soup with Tomato Basil Relish
Salmon Moqueca
Savory Seafood Chowder
Seafood Bisque
Shrimp, Bacon and Veggie Chowder
Shrimp, Scallops & Calamari in Coconut Lime Sauce – technically not a soup, but it’s real close!
Shrimp and Shellfish Chowder
Thai Pumpkin Shrimp Soup
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Lamb Soup!

Spicy Moroccan Lamb Soup with Lentils & Chickpeas (great way to use up left over leg of lamb)
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Pork and Sausage Soup!

Borscht with Andouille Sausage (eh)
Broccoli, White Bean & Sausage Soup
Butternut Squash Soup with Pancetta
Chili Verde
Creamy Cabbage Soup with Italian Sausage (easy)
Creamy Sausage Soup with Kale and Zucchini
Italian Sausage and Tomato Soup (easy)
Italian Sausage, Bean & Orzo Soup with Spinach
Leek, Kielbasa and Sausage Soup
Pork and Italian Sausage Soup
Portuguese Kale Soup (Caldo Verde)
Posole – Pork and Hominy Stew (a true posole)
Ribollita (Tuscan Veggie Soup with ham)
Sausage and Chile Soup
Shchi – Russian Pork Cabbage Soup (eh)
Spanish Pork and Bean Swiss Chard Soup
Spanish Pork Braise
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Vegetable Soup! (some do contain meat)

Adobe Stew (my riff of the Gypsy Den soup)
Asparagus Soup with Tarragon
Avocado-Corn Chowder with Chicken (chilled – you can eliminate the meat)
Broccoli Cheese & Noodle Soup (very easy)
Butternut Squash, Fennel and Ginger Soup
Carrot & Ginger Soup with Lime
Cauliflower Soup (make it without the scallop topping)
Cauliflower and Apple Soup with Almonds
Cheesy Cauliflower Soup (Pioneer Woman)
Chilled Carrot & Cauliflower Soup
Creamy Broccoli Cheddar Soup with Croutons
Cream of Asparagus Soup
Cream of Cucumber Soup (cold)
Cream of Mushroom Soup
Cream of Sweet Potato Soup
Creamy Cauliflower Soup
Creamy Leek Soup
Creamy Mushroom Soup (from Food52)
Creamy Tomato Soup
Creamy Pea Soup (cold)
Cucumber Lychee Gazpacho (cold)
Farmhouse Vegetable Soup
Green Vegetable Soup with Bacon & Herbs
Grilled Corn and Potato Chowder
Mexican Corn Soup with Chicken, Bacon & Chips
Mushroom Potato Crema Soup
Portuguese Kale Soup (Caldo Verde)
Potato, Apple, Leek and Fennel Soup
Red Pepper Chili (with quinoa)
Ribollita (Tuscan Veggie Soup – this version with ham)
Roasted Corn Soup with Tomato
Roasted Poblano Chile Soup with Asiago
Roasted Red Pepper Bisque
Silky Watercress Soup
Sopa de Calabacitas (corn, zucchini, southwestern influence)
Sweet Corn Soup
Tomato – Roasted Tomato Soup with Pesto Coulis
Tomato and Lentil Soup with Toasted Chickpeas
Tomato Bisque Sip Soup
Tomato Soup (Mike’s)
Zucchini Soup (cold)
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Avocado Chilled Soup (cold)
Cantaloupe Gazpacho
Cheddar and Ale Soup with Bacon and Shallots
Cheddar Cheese Soup with Sherry and Thyme
Chilled Avocado Soup (cold)
Chilled Cantaloupe Soup (cold)
Citrus Gazpacho (cold)
Cream of Cashew Soup
Cucumber Lychee Gazpacho (cold)
Honeydew Melon Soup with Almonds (cold)
Senegalese Peanut Soup
Strawberry Gazpacho (cold)
Watermelon Blueberry Soup (cold)
Watermelon Gazpacho
White Gazpacho (cold)
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