Get updates sent to you for free by RSS, or by email:


Currently Reading

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Just 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 because 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 a lady-in-waiting to Queen Catherine, Margaret of York, later titled Countess of Salisbury, but 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 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.

Winter Journey by Diane Armstrong. Have you ever read about forensic dentistry? I sure had not, so I found it fascinating reading. It’s a debut novel for the author, and what a story. Halina, an Australian, with Polish roots, specializes in this obscure profession as a forensic dentist, and is asked to go to Poland, to help identify bone (and tooth) fragments, to put to rest a sad event in the story of this small town, when many, many people (Jews) were murdered. Was it the Nazis? Or was it the local townspeople who disliked the Jews. What a tangled web of intrigue, including Halina’s own mysterious past. I really enjoyed the read. The author does a great job of developing the characters (which I always like). This is no light read if you consider the subject matter, although it IS a novel (but based on fact). Nor is it a spy thriller – it’s more just an historical novel with lots of interesting people throughout. There’s a romance thrown in too, and a whole lot of angst about the discoveries found in the mass grave. But, the subject expanded my knowledge about forensics.

The Lost Painting: The Quest for a Caravaggio Masterpiece by Jonathan Harr. I just LOVED this book. I’ve never been much of a fan of Caravaggio’s paintings, although I’ve seen plenty of them (many are extremely large) in museums around the world. His paintings were dark, often with dark subjects. But as with many of the old masters, occasionally some obscure work surfaces, perhaps credited to another artist, even, that turns out to be one done by “the” master. In this case, Caravaggio. Although this book is written as a novel (with dialogue, etc.) it’s historical through and through. It begins with two young women art scholars, in Italy, who are asked to do a research project. One thing leads to another, and to another. All true.  If you enjoy books about art – I learned some things about the paint and the canvases of the time – you’ll be intrigued as I was.

Eye On the Struggle: Ethel Payne, the First Lady of the Black Press, by James, McGrath Morris. Each year my AAUW book club reads something related to Black History Month. This is a biography of a woman you’ve probably never heard of, Ethel Payne, and about her life-long journey in journalism, struggling to keep her head above water financially, but staying true to her purposes of telling the truth about the black stories and black racism of the day. Sometimes biographies aren’t all that riveting, but I found this one to be so, and I savored each new chapter. We had a really good discussion of the book, and the ups and downs of Payne’s life, especially during her years as a Washington reporter. You’ll not be sorry to have spent the time reading this book. It’s well-written, as well. I was thrilled when the author, Morris, left a message here on my blog, thanking me (and my group) for reading his book.

H Is for Hawk, by Helen Macdonald. This one has been on the best seller list. It’s a memoir about a woman who takes on a personal challenge of taming a wild hawk. Prior to reading this book, I knew next to nothing about the entire subject of hawking, or taming any of the big, wild birds. The book is equally about the writer’s inner journey. She’s a consummate writer, and every page was a joy of words, for me. My only problem is my own – I found it hard, the more time that went by, and the more time the writer spent trying to tame this bird, to scream out “let the bird go.” Perhaps it’s because I spent time in Africa in 2015, seeing animals in the wild, that I felt more for the bird than I did with the writer’s discontent with herself and the taming process. Little did I know what a hard job it is to tame a hawk. I actually didn’t finish the book. It was a book club read, and highly recommended by several of our members. And I ended up not being able to attend the meeting as I had a cold. So perhaps there is some great ending to it that would have made me feel better. I haven’t gone to the end to find out. I just had to stop reading it. But I’m not NOT recommending it. If nothing else, read it for Macdonald’s sublime proficiency with words.

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!)
Back to top

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
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
Back to top

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
Back to top

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
Back to top

Lamb Soup!

Spicy Moroccan Lamb Soup with Lentils & Chickpeas (great way to use up left over leg of lamb)
Back to top

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
Back to top

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)
Back to top


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)
Back to top