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I’m going to write up an entire blog post about this book. It may be one of the best books I’ve read in a long, long time. It’s a memoir by Pat Conroy (an author I’ve long admired). He died a year or so ago – sad, that. In order to get the most out of My Reading Life, I recommend you BUY THE HARDBACK. I can’t say enough good things about this book. It’s an autobiography of sorts, but not really. He never wrote one, I don’t think, and I doubt he would ever have written one as he likely didn’t believe anyone would want to read about his (sad) life. In this memoir, he chronicles the books (and the people who recommended them) that influenced his life. Starting at his mother’s knees and continuing through influential teachers and mentors and friends. One of my book clubs read it, and I devoured it, cover to cover, with little plastic flags inserted all the way through to re-read some of the prose. Pat Conroy was a fabulous writer – he studied words from a young age and used them widely and wisely throughout his writing, but better than most authors would. He adored his mother, and hated (with venom) his aviator military father who physically abused everyone in the family, including his mother. They all took it like stoic Buddhas. I’m going to have to read Thomas Wolfe’s Look Homeward, Angel because of reading this book. I’ve never read it. Conroy says that book’s first page is the best first page of any book he ever read in his life. Wow. And maybe my book group is going to re-read Tolstoy’s War and Peace (Vintage Classics) too because of the chapter on that book. We might have to assign that to a 2-month or longer read. If you have friends or family who are avid readers, this would make a great gift, this book, My Reading Life. If YOU are a reader, it needs to be on your bookshelf, but in hardback, so you can go back to it and re-read his stories. It’s a series of essays, each one about a sub-section of his life. A must-have and a must-read.

Also read The Towers of Tuscany by Carol Cram. It was a bargain book through amazon or bookbub (e-book). Back in the Middle Ages women were forbidden to be artists. Their only place was in the home, caring for children and sewing and cooking. But the heroine in this book was taught to paint by her widowed artist-father (in secret, of course). When her father suddenly dies, all hell breaks loose and she must fend for herself. Much of the book takes place in Florence as she disguises herself as a boy in order to continue her life’s passion – painting. Very interesting story and worth reading.

Also finished The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry: A Novel by Gabrielle Zevin. It popped up on a list I subscribe to and was available for $1.13 as an e-book. As it begins, you’re hearing from A.J., a grieving widower who owns a bookstore on an obscure island off the East Coast. He’s angry, rude and every other negative adjective you can imagine. A book rep comes to visit and he’s awful to her, yet she perseveres and manages to sell him a few books. You get to know his friends (a friendship with him is full of sharp points) and one day an abandoned toddler is found in his bookshop. In between the story line about A.J., the book rep, the little girl and others, you will learn all about A.J.’s book tastes. If you’re an avid reader, you’ll really enjoy that part. It’s a charming book; loved it.

Also read a quirky book, Goodbye, Vitamin: A Novel by Rachel Khong. She’s a new writer (newly published, I guess I should say) and this story is about Ruth, a 30+ something, trying to readjust to life without her fiance, who’s dumped her. She goes back home to help with the care of her father, who has Alzheimer’s. Written in a diary style, it jumps all over about her life, her mother, the funny, poignant things her father says on good days, and the nutty stuff he does on not-so-good days, her ex-, and her very quirky friends, too. Then a woman flits through who had had an affair with her father –  you get to observe all the angst from the mom about that. Mostly it’s about her father, as he’s relatively “together” early in the book, but then he disintegrates. Reading that part isn’t fun, although the author is able to lean some humor into it. I’m not sure I recommend the book exactly – I read it through – and felt sad. It doesn’t tie up loose ends – if you need that kind of book – you may not want to read this one.

 

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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Other!

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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