Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Carrot Soup with Toasted Spices and Pecans - recipe & giveaway

LESLIE:  Over the years, we’ve made a few carrot soups and always enjoyed them. But lately, I’ve been looking at soup through Pepper’s eye, as it’s the featured food in the fifth Spice Shop book, due out in 2020. I’m about 65 pages in to the manuscript, but no surprise, I’ve got a clearer vision for the recipe section than for the story itself. No surprise, because I often start with the title spice. And oddly, while it’s popular in soup, it doesn’t feature in this one. Go figure.

People often think soups take hours. They really don’t. But they are often better the second day. Why? As Pepper likes to remind her customers and us, spice blends can take a good 24 hours to marry, and that’s certainly true here. In other words, while you’ll love this soup on Sunday night when you’re cooking for the week, you’ll love the leftovers even more on Tuesday, reheated in a small pan on the stove top. The teeny little bite -- and it will hit your tongue, not your throat or tummy -- will be gone, the spices melded into a rich, toasty combo that's doubly nice on a chilly evening.

Don't skip the pecans – they’re a terrific complement to the sweetness of the carrots. If you end up with leftover nuts, toss them in a salad. And if you have leftover spices – well, save them for more soup. Or follow Pepper’s lead and play!

Coconut milk can be thick and lumpy, and playing catch with the can isn’t enough to re-homogenize it. The best trick is to pour it into the container for the immersion or stick blender, or the jar of a regular blender, and whirr it up a bit. And don’t worry about dirtying the thing – you’ll use it again to puree the soup. Pour the extra milk in a plastic container, toss it in the freezer, and use it for another round of Carrot Soup or the Winter Squash, Mushroom, and Spinach Curry I shared earlier this year.

This soup is excellent with a salad and cheese toasts. But then, so is just about everything.

As many of you know, my Spice Shop Mysteries will be returning in June, at long last, with #4, CHAI ANOTHER DAY. And today is my birthday! To celebrate those two events, I'm offering readers' choice of the earlier Spice Shop Mysteries: ASSAULT & PEPPER, GUILTY AS CINNAMON, or KILLING THYME. Leave a comment below, with your email address, for a chance to win. THREE WINNERS! 

Talk to me about soup, spice, or Seattle -- or anything else your little heart desires. 

And if you want to be among the first to see the cover of CHAI -- some delays at the publisher, but it should be ready any day now -- sign up for my newsletter (link below) for the big reveal!

Carrot Soup With Toasted Spices and Pecans

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 medium onion
2 cloves garlic
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 pound carrots
1/2 cup canned coconut milk
3 cups water
1/2 cup pecan halves
1 teaspoon ground cumin or coriander
1 teaspoon celery seed
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon whole black peppercorns or coarsely ground black pepper
Sour cream or plain Greek yogurt, for serving

Chop the onion and mince the garlic.

Melt the butter in a stock pot over medium-low heat. Stir in the onion, garlic and 1/2 teaspoon of the salt; cover and cook for 6 to 8 minutes, until the onion has softened, stirring occasionally.

While the onion mixture sautees, scrub and trim the carrots, then slice into thin rounds.

Increase the heat to medium; stir in the carrots, coconut milk and water. When the mixture begins to bubble at the edges, cover and cook 15-20 minutes, until the carrots become tender.

Meanwhile, toast the pecans in a small dry skillet over medium-low heat for 3-4 minutes, until fragrant and lightly browned; remember that nuts will continue to brown and crisp as they cool. Transfer to a cutting board to cool; coarsely chop. Add the cumin, celery seed, crushed red pepper flakes and black peppercorns to the skillet; toast 3-4 minutes until fragrant, then crush and blend in a spice grinder or with mortar and pestle. Don’t skip this step, even if you’ve used already-ground pepper, as crushing the spices together helps to blend the flavors.

Back to the carrots. Test for doneness; when soft, remove from heat and allow to cool about 5 minutes. Add all but a pinch of the toasted, crushed spices and stir well. Then use your immersion blender or regular blender to puree; you may puree or leave some chunks, as you prefer. Stir in the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt.

Divide among individual bowls. Garnish with the remaining toasted spices, a dollop of sour cream or yogurt, and the toasted pecans.

Serves 4.

"A treat for the senses." --- librarian and reviewer Lesa Holstine, on the Spice Shop Mysteries

From the cover of CHAI ANOTHER DAY, Spice Shop Mystery #4 (Seventh St. Books, June 2019): 

 Seattle Spice Shop owner Pepper Reece probes murder while juggling a troubled employee, her mother's house hunt, and a fisherman who's set his hook for her.

As owner of the Spice Shop in Seattle's famed Pike Place Market, Pepper Reece is always on the go. Between conjuring up new spice blends and serving iced spice tea to customers looking to beat the summer heat, she finally takes a break for a massage. But the Zen moment is shattered when she overhears an argument in her friend Aimee's vintage home decor shop that ends in murder. 

Wracked by guilt over her failure to intervene, Pepper investigates, only to discover a web of deadly connections that could ensnare a friend - and Pepper herself.

Leslie Budewitz is the author of the Food Lovers’ Village Mysteries and the Spice Shop Mysteries—and the first author to win Agatha Awards for both fiction and nonfiction. Her first historical short story, "All God's Sparrows," is nominated for the 2018 Agatha Award for Best Short Story; read it on her website. A past president of Sisters in Crime and a current board member of Mystery Writers of America, she lives in northwest Montana with her husband, a musician and doctor of natural medicine, and their cat, an avid bird-watcher.

Swing by my website and join the mailing list for my seasonal newsletter. And join me on Facebook where I announce lots of giveaways from my cozy writer friends.


  1. Your soup sounds delicious, perfect for Wisconsin right now. I’d love to get one of your books, to read in my cozy chair.

  2. Happy birthday! And that soup looks sooo good, and easily made vegan. I'm definitely going to have to try this recipe. mbradeen [at] yahoo [dot] com

    1. Thanks! And yes -- just skip the dollop and ta-da -- vegan!

  3. Happy birthday, Leslie! I can't say I'm a fan of carrots, so I probably won't try this soup. There are lots of soups I do love, though! Cream of mushroom and clam chowder are a couple of my favorites. So excited for the new Spice Shop mystery!

  4. Happy Birthday! I have all three Spice Shop books and Chai Another Day is on the wish list! The recipe sounds great and I'll definitely give it a try - always looking for recipes I can make gluten free!


    1. Thanks! I forgot to tag this g-f -- thanks for the reminder!

  5. Hurray! The Spice Shop is back!!!

    This soup sounds super (couldn't resist). Great combination of flavors.

    libbydodd at comcast dot net

  6. I love toasting spices and this recipe sounds like a winner! bobandcelia@sbcglobal.net

  7. The recipe sounds great—I love soup in the winter, esp homemade. And yay to your books! Legallyblonde1961@yahoo.com

  8. Soup is my staple and is soothing. Your recipe sounds delectable and your books captivating. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

  9. I want to try this recipe. I may need to cut it in half as I'm not sure my husband would like it. I can eat soup all year round. I enjoy your spice shop books. pgenest57(at)aol(dot)com

    1. Paula, it only makes 4 servings and while I haven't tried freezing it, I think you easily could. Some soup recipes could feed the neighborhood, but this isn't one of them.

  10. I love soup all year and this soup is a delightful and unique type.Love your spice books. elliotbencan(at)hotmail(dot)com

  11. I am so excited to be part of this group -- today is my first day here-- and to see this amazing recipe is a huge plus
    I also can not believe all the fabulous books I now have to read!

    1. Welcome, Nancy! We aim to please palate and mind. Be sure to leave your email address if you'd like a chance to win a book!

  12. This comment has been removed by the author.

  13. The carrot soup sounds delicious, I really like the addition of the pecans. Will make a good meal for the chilly weather we are still having in Chicago.

    1. Brr! We're on our 3d consecutive day of lows in the double digits BELOW zero -- and our 3d bout of this in 3 weeks. At least the sun is out and we have crept above zero, though not by much. Soup weather continues...

  14. Happy Birthday!I hope you have a great day! Wishing you a wonderful birthday year! Thanks for the recipe ! It looks delectable! Congratulations on your upcoming book release! I have never been to Seattle,I have always wanted to go! I love cooking soup.I love cooking all types, my daughter loves it when I make matzo ball soup. I've made butternut squash soup for my mother in my instant pot.

    1. Thanks, Mindy! Love your email address!

    2. You're welcome. Thanks, I love baking, so I thought it would work well. I just caught a mistake I did.
      My correct email address is BakingCookies32(at)Gmail(dot)com

  15. Your carrot soup sounds interesting. I wish I could try it before committing to making it!

    1. Here' -- I'll pass a spoonful through the screen. Got it? Good!

  16. Soup is perfect on a rainy or chilly day or when you're just feeling quiet. Homemade is so, so much better than that canned stuff (ugh) or even what they have in the grocery stores in tubs. Hit and miss there but nothing better than soup simmering on the stove. Thanks for the recipe and the giveaway.