Sunday, November 12, 2017

Maria’s Portuguese Soup: the perfect cold remedy #mystery #recipe #giveaway


Please welcome our good friend and colleague, R.J. Harlick to Mystery Lovers Kitchen today! This is not her first visit and she always delivers a great post. R.J. is not only a talented writer, but also a whiz in the kitchen.  Some of us know that first hand! Today’s recipe makes the most of the fall season and ties in beautifully to R.J.’s latest book, Purple Palate for Murder.   Make sure you read to the end to find out about the TRIPLE giveaway today.  How's that for suspense!

Here's R.J. with her sidekicks Sterling and Molly!

Maria’s Portuguese Soup: the perfect cold remedy

The wind has blown away the last of the Fall leaves and the frost has killed the basil left forgotten in the garden. Inside her Victorian timber cottage, Meg Harris is hunkered down on the sofa, wrapped in a duvet. She has the sniffles. Her throat is so sore she can barely swallow and she can’t stop shivering. All she wants to do is lie in front of the fire licking at the glass of the stone fireplace and feel sorry for herself.  She’d like to stretch her legs out, but she can’t.  Shoni, her silver-haired standard poodle, is curled up on the other end of the chesterfield with his head resting on her feet. But that’s okay. Meg likes the dog’s comforting presence.

Eric, her husband, has promised the perfect pick-me-upper. For the last hour, he has been in the kitchen, a room that is more his domain than Meg’s. She’s been listening to him belt out Bobcaygeon, off-key. The first time he made her the cure-all soup, he vowed it would have her dancing around the room. Though it hadn’t exactly got her moving, it had warmed her up nicely with its soothing chicken broth, healthy kale and spicy chorizo sausage. It was the name though that had raised her eyebrows, Maria’s Portuguese Soup.  He’d merely chuckled when she’d asked him about Maria. This time she decided not to worry about Maria and simply enjoy the soup.

Preferring to go by the seat of his pants, so to speak, Eric doesn’t like to use formal recipes, so he reluctantly agreed to write it down for Meg with the proviso that next time he’s bound to fiddle with both the ingredients and the measurements. What could Meg do? She doesn’t cook.
And she did notice that he had managed to sneak in some chopped leeks to this version of Maria’s soup despite no mention of it in his recipe. “With your nose blocked up, you need an extra punch to the flavour,” he said, ladling out a steaming bowlful.

He still refused to say who Maria was. But you know what, R.J. who wasn’t really a part of this conversation, knows. She will tell all after you have cooked the soup.

Maria’s Portuguese Soup
Makes 6 to 8 servings

¼ c, chopped pancetta
2 tbsp.olive oil
1 medium onion
5-7 leaves of kale
1-2 medium sized carrots
1 stalk celery
1 19 oz can navy beans – drained
1 c. diced tomatoes
5 oz -  smoked chorizo sausage or Portuguese sausage
6-8 c. chicken stock – salt free
1 bay leaf
fresh thyme
salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp ground cumin

1.      Fry up chopped pancetta in a large pot over medium heat, stirring occasionally until the fat is rendered. The pancetta adds a nice flavor to the soup

        When it begins to turn brown, remove from the pot leaving the rendered fat behind and drain on paper towel for later use – it can be added to the soup.
3.      Add the olive oil to the rendered fat.
4.      Chop the onion, add to the heated oil and cook for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally
5.      Remove the woody stems from the kale and chop the remaining leafy part crosswise into 1-2 inch strips.

6.      Add kale to the onions and cook for 3 minutes or until the kale has wilted. Stir occasionally. Kale needs to be cooked thoroughly by the time the soup is finished.
7.      Chop the carrots and celery and add to the onion/kale mixture and cook 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.

 Slice the chorizo into bite-size pieces and add it to the mixture.

  Add the drained navy beans and diced tomatoes.

        Add the chicken stock, bay leaf and a few sprigs of fresh thyme and bring to boil and turn heat down to medium.
1    Cook for 15-20 minutes with the lid partially on the pot.  Stir occasionally.
      The soup will be done when the carrots are cooked

        Add cumin, salt and pepper to taste, and the cooked pancetta (if desired) and let sit with the lid on for 15 minutes to allow the flavors to richen.
       Remove the bay leaf and the thyme.
1   Serve with your favorite bread.
1   Enjoy

R.J. here.  Maria is a long time friend who has been helping me keep my house beautifully clean for more than thirty years. She immigrated to Canada from the Portuguese Azores with her husband over fifty years ago. They have had a long and prosperous life here in Canada raising three children and are now surrounded by many grandchildren. Though she loves her adopted country and would never return to Portugal to live, she still has a fondness for her islands and things Portuguese, including food. Through her I discovered that kale is a staple of Portuguese cooking. She gave me this recipe, which I have embellished somewhat. Much like Eric, I can’t leave a recipe alone. I have to add my own touch.

Called “the queen of Canadian wilderness fiction” RJ Harlick, writes the popular Meg Harris mystery series set in the wilds of West Quebec. Like her heroine Meg Harris, RJ loves nothing better than to roam the forests surrounding her own wilderness cabin or paddle the endless lakes and rivers. But unlike Meg, she doesn’t find a body at every twist and turn, although she certainly likes to put them in Meg’s way. While most of the action takes place close to her Three Deer Point Victorian cottage, occasionally Meg travels to other Canadian wildernesses. In the latest and eighth book,  Purple Palette for Murder, Meg travels to Canada’s Far North to the Northwest Territories in a desperate attempt to prove her husband innocent of murder.

R.J. and her publisher DUNDURN are generously offering 3 books for a giveaway.  US and Canada only.

Keep up with R.J. and her writing:  Her website is

You can find her on FACEBOOK or on Twitter  @RJHarlick

Have fun! Happy reading and happy eating. 


  1. Welcome, RJ! Great recipe; and I would love to read this fabulous-sounding book.

  2. I have to say, I'm pretty enamored with this post. I was not familiar with RJ's work, so I was confused with the characters in the first part. But then getting to the end where she explained who Maria was, and then learning about her book series, it was such a clever blog post! I'd love a chance to read some of her work!

  3. A very warm and comforting soup for cold weather months. Thanks for the chance to win :)
    jslbrown2009 at aol dot com