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Recently finished reading The Good Widow: A Novel by Lisa Steinke. All I can say is “wow.” In a general sense, this book is based on the premise of The Pilot’s Wife. But this one has some totally different twists and turns. A young wife is met at the door by police, informing her that her husband has died in an auto accident. Then she finds out he died in Hawaii – not Kansas, where she thought he was, on business. Then she finds out there was a woman in the car. Then she meets the fiance of the woman passenger and the two of them embark on a fact-finding mission in Hawaii to discover the truth. Well, I’m just sayin’ . . . the plot thickens. And thickens. And thickens clear up to the last few pages. Hang onto your seat. A really, really good, suspenseful read.

The Girl Who Wrote in Silk by Kelli Estes. What a WONDERFUL book. It opens up a shameful part of America’s past, but one you might not have heard about before this. In the late 1800s thousands of Chinese workers were brought to the West Coast to help with a variety of construction projects and a myriad of other things where laborers were needed. Many settled, married and made a new life for themselves. But suddenly the white population didn’t want them here anymore and they summarily ordered them ALL out of our country. This book chronicles a young Chinese girl, who was on a ship that was supposed to take her family to China, but the ship’s captain decided en route to dump them all overboard, to drown. The girl’s father knew it was going to happen and in order to save her, he threw his daughter off the ship as they were passing Orcas Island (in the San Juan Islands west of Seattle). She was saved. The book switches from that time to current time as a woman is rebuilding her family’s home on Orcas and finds a beautifully embroidered silk Chinese robe sleeve hidden under a stair step. The book is about that sordid past and the young girl’s descendents, and about the woman who is rebuilding. Stunner of a novel. Good for a book club read, I think. It has a reader’s guide at the back with good questions for book groups.

How It All Began: A Novel by Penelope Lively. I find it hard to describe this book – it’s wonderful. I loved it. But describing it is perplexing. The title relates to one of the characters, a woman of a certain age, who is mugged, and has to go live with her daughter and son in law for awhile since she’s stuck with crutches and has mobility problems. That starts the cavalcade of events that spread around her, with the characters. And she knows nothing whatsoever about them, hardly. They’re all somewhat inter-related (not much family, but mostly by circumstance) and they all get into some rather logical and some peculiar relationships. You engage  with each and every one of them; at least I sure did; and was trying to tell some of them to back away from what they were about to do. Or “be careful;” or “don’t go there.” That kind of thing. There is nothing insidious, no mystery involved – it’s all about these people and what happens to them. I was sad when the book was finished. The author, Lively, does add a chapter at the end – I wonder if it wasn’t part of the master plan – that kind of tidies up everything, and you get to see all of the characters move on with their lives, happy or not, but mostly happy. Really enjoyed the book. Am not sure it would be a good book club read, as the only thing to discuss are the characters themselves. Lively paints these characters well; you can just picture them as they get themselves in and out of relationship mischief.

The Last Midwife: A Novel by Sandra Dallas. It’s a very, very good read. It tells the story of an older married woman who lives in a small mining town in the Colorado rockies (this is the mid-1800’s), and is well known by all because she’s the only midwife in the area. Often people can’t pay her anything, or very little for her days of service with little or no rest or food. Suddenly, a couple accuse her of strangling their infant. Hence the story is about how this small town rallies or rails for or against Gracy. She didn’t commit the crime, but not everyone can be convinced since the angry father is a wealthy and influential man in the area. There’s plenty of relationship issues here, which make really great fodder for a novel. And there are plenty of characters in the book that you’ll love or hate. Some secrets get dredged up too. Oh, such a good read.

 

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.

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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)
Senegalese Sweet Potato Soup with Chicken
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 Chowder (with cream cheese)
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
Chilled Corn Chili & Lime Soup
Chilled Yellow Squash Soup
Chilled Yellow Squash Soup with Thai Flavors
Chilled Zucchini-Mint 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)
Eat-Your-Greens Soup
Farmhouse Vegetable Soup
Green Minestrone
Green Vegetable Soup with Bacon & Herbs
Grilled Corn and Potato Chowder
Mexican Corn Soup with Chicken, Bacon & Chips
Mushroom Potato Crema Soup
Mushroom Soup without Cream
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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