Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Tomato-Basil Soup, #recipe by @LeslieBudewitz #giveaway

LESLIE BUDEWITZ:  Many years ago, as a young lawyer, I worked in an office tower in Seattle called “the Black Box” or, in a nod to its origins as home to Seattle First National Bank, “the box the Space Needle came in.” At the foot of the building, across the courtyard from a massive Henry Moore bronze sculpture and across the street from the central library, was a deli and takeout joint called Pasta & Company. 

I ate there often, alone or with colleagues and friends, and regularly grabbed a takeout lunch. When I started writing the Spice Shop Mysteries, I resurrected the long-gone restaurant as Ripe, the domain of Pepper Reece’s good friend, chef and caterer Laurel Halloran. I’ve set several scenes in Ripe, partly because it’s well-placed in downtown Seattle for Pepper to drop in when she needs a bite or an ear, and partly because I loved the place. And writing, like reading, allows us to revisit old haunts whenever we feel the urge. 

Over the years, I’ve recreated several of my favorites from the corner deli, including a Tortellini Salad served up in Treble at the Jam Fest, the fourth book in my Food Lovers’ Village Mysteries.

But one that eluded me was the Tomato-Basil Soup. Tomato soup is a classic, especially with bread and cheese in the form of a grilled cheese sandwich or Ripe’s herb-and-cheese breadsticks. I’ve got several recipes, involving fresh tomatoes, canned tomatoes, even roasted tomatoes, cream or no cream, and other variations. I love them all, but none was exactly what my mouth remembered. 

So when The Solace of Bay Leaves began to take shape in my mind, I knew Pepper and I would be serving up soup. And when I discovered that a key ingredient in the story would be the investigation of the still-unsolved murder, three years ago, of Laurel’s husband, I knew I needed to figure out that tomato-basil soup. I couldn’t find a recipe online, even though I was sure Pasta & Company had once issued a cookbook. Happily, Mr. Right loves tomato soup as much as I do and willingly served as taste tester. (And no, it contains no bay leaves. Let that be our little secret.) 

It’s no secret that cooking and eating are deeply evocative. One whiff, one taste, and we’re transported back to a physical place or a mental space. Physical therapists refer to “muscle memory,” but I think memory itself is a muscle, one that transports us through the maps of our own lives. 

You’re thinking about soup right now, aren’t you? The chicken soup your mother made when you were sick; even if it came from a can, as my mother’s did, it speaks of caring and concern. The chili you had at the tailgater on your first date with your spouse. The French onion soup on a brisk winter day in Paris, France or Paris, Texas or a hole-in-the-wall restaurant with Formica counters and linoleum floors in a town whose name you can’t quite dredge up, but dang, that soup was good. 

I hope you’ll enjoy Laurel’s Tomato-Basil Soup and that you’ll let it, and me, take you on a trip to Seattle in The Solace of Bay Leaves.

Leave a comment below for a chance to win a signed ARC of The Solace of Bay Leaves, out in paperback October 20. 

Laurel’s Tomato-Basil Soup

A favorite at Ripe, easy to recreate at home. 


4 large tomatoes, cored, seeded, and coarsely chopped

4 cups tomato juice

12-14 small to medium basil leaves

½ cup heavy cream

1/4 to 1/3 cup butter

kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste

Basil leaves or edible flowers for garnish


Place chopped tomatoes and juice in a stock pot, on medium heat. Simmer about 30 minutes. 

Add the basil leaves. Remove from heat and use a blender or immersion blender to create a chunky puree. 

Return puree to stock pot. Add cream and butter; stir well. Season to taste. Reheat, but don’t boil, stirring until the butter is melted. 

Serve and garnish.

Serves 4. 




Talk to me about soup! Or tomatoes. Or recipes you've recreated from a memory of a dish you loved. One lucky reader will win a signed ARC of The Solace of Bay Leaves. Be sure to leave your email address! (US addresses only; winner will be chosen Friday, October 9.) 



From the cover of THE SOLACE OF BAY LEAVES, Spice Shop Mystery #5, out now in e-book and audio, in paperback October 20, 2020 (Seventh St. Books and Tantor Audio) : 

Pepper Reece never expected to find solace in bay leaves. 

But when her life fell apart at forty and she bought the venerable-but-rundown Spice Shop in Seattle’s Pike Place Market, her days took a tasty turn. Now she’s savoring the prospect of a flavorful fall and a busy holiday cooking season, until danger bubbles to the surface ... 

Between managing her shop, worrying about her staff, and navigating a delicious new relationship, Pepper’s firing on all burners. But when her childhood friend Maddie is shot and gravely wounded, the incident is quickly tied to an unsolved murder that left another close friend a widow. 

Convinced that the secret to both crimes lies in the history of a once-beloved building, Pepper uses her local-girl contacts and her talent for asking questions to unearth startling links between the past and present—links that suggest her childhood friend may not have been the Golden Girl she appeared to be. Pepper is forced to face her own regrets and unsavory emotions, if she wants to save Maddie’s life—and her own. 

Leslie Budewitz is the author of the Food Lovers’ Village Mysteries and the Spice Shop Mysteries, and the winner of Agatha Awards in three categories. Death al Dente, the first Food Lovers' Village Mystery, won Best First Novel in 2013, following her 2011 win in Best Nonfiction. Her first historical short story, "All God's Sparrows," won the 2018 Agatha Award for Best Short Story. Watch for her first standalone suspense novel, Bitterroot Lake (written as Alicia Beckman) in April 2021 from Crooked Lane Books.

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.

57 comments:

  1. I've never been a huge fan of tomatoe soup but that picture with the flowers looks so very tempting. You are so right about food and memories. I am sitting here thinking about different soups and am instantly transported back in time to different places. Tomato soup from a school cafeteria while it was snowing in Upper Peninsula Michigan on an air force base. There was clam chowder from the Del Mar Fish Market restaurant with a side of sourdough bread on a date with my boyfriend. now husband. Making TLC chicken soup sure to knock out any cold with the garlic and cayenne kick. Hmmm, I wonder what I should make for dinner tonight now that I have all these recipes going through my thoughts? Might just need to try a new tomato souo recipe 😋🍅🍲

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    1. Great memories! Remember to leave your email address for a chance to win!

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  2. When I was a kid we ate a lot of tomato soup, and I was also never a fan. Then a friend made us a lunch of tomato soup from fresh tomatoes, and wow. What a difference.

    This sounds delicious, Leslie. Now I want to have lunch with you and Pepper!

    k maslowski at fuse dot net

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    1. Right? Fresh or good canned tomatoes make all the difference!

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  3. I don’t like tomato soup but as a kid I used to like Campbell’s Scotch broth but then I couldn’t find it any more. So I came up with my own recipe for lamb barley soup a few years ago.
    sgiden at verizon(.)net

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    1. I remember that one! My dad's fave, so of course, I declared it mine, too. Mr. Right loves it so we make our own a couple of times a winter -- your lamb version sounds great!

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  4. Tomato Basil soup is one of my favorites and often I order it when out to lunch. Haven't ever made it though. I believe I will try this one. Thank you! Love your books, Leslie. Would love to win this one. marthajane758@gmail.com

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  5. Sounds good! My mom really likes tomato soup, I'll have to make this for her.
    kozo8989(at)hotmail(dot)com

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  6. Simple and you've done all the testing work for us. Nice.
    Just add a grilled cheese sandwich and we're ready to go.
    I've read that a mixed veg juice (a la V8) can work well in soup.
    libbydodd at comcast dot net

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  7. Love tomato soup. Perfect soup weather here in NC.
    Joliver284@yahoo.com

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  8. My pleasure! V-8 would be good -- a different flavor profile, but good!

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  9. Omgosh! That soup looks so delicious! I could go for a big bowl of that right now with a toasted cheese sandwich! And a side of pickles :) . One of my favorite comfort food combinations! LOVE the title of the book too! Course, I actually have a few bay leaves placed around my kitchen(have seen a few of those tiny ants running around). Bay leaves are supposed to be good for repelling the little demons. THanks for the chance to win! ladyofshalott03(at)yahoo(dot)com

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    1. Dawn, I've heard that about bay leaves too, but have never tried it. I hope it works -- let me know!

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  10. This sounds like a great fall recipe. Looks delicious. Looking forward to reading "The Solace of the Bay Leaves".
    diannekc8(at)gmail(dot)com

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  11. Love making soup! Tomato soup and grilled cheese is the best.
    cupcakesannie@yahoo.com

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  12. I love tomato soup. It's so comforting. Your pics look amazing!

    (I'm really behind on my TBR pile, so I'll pass on the giveaway. Congrats on your latest book!)

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  13. I love tomato soup! Legallyblonde1961@yahoo.com

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  14. It looks great, I love tomato soup, and I just happen to have all of those ingredients. Definitely on this week's menu! Congrats on the new book and thanks for the giveaway.
    sallycootie@gmail.com

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  15. This is the perfect tomato soup to go with a grilled cheese sandwich.
    Kitten143(at) Verizon(dot) net

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  16. I love soup any time of year, but fall and winter are truly soup seasons! I love to make my own split pea and navy bean soups, as well as many others.

    Nancy
    allibrary (at) aol (dot) com

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  17. Soup is one of my favorite things, especially in winter. And my husband and I love to have mugs of tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches for lunch when it's rainy outside. aut1063(at)gmail(dot)com

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  18. Never have had tomato soup. cheetahthecat1986ATgmailDOTcom

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    1. Never? In your whole life? Get cooking, girlfriend!

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  19. I didn't like tomato soup as a kid, but it's grown on me.
    wskwared(at)yahoo(dot)com

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  20. That soup looks so good. We usually have a few Creole tomato plants in our yard each. Nothing beats that taste! 1cow0993(at)gmail(dot)com

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  21. Yes, you've got me thinking of soup now. Tomato soup with a grilled cheese sandwich is one of my favorite comfort meals.
    turtle6422 at gmail dot com

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  22. Too many of you lovelies to respond to each, but know that I am delighted to see you all here!

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  23. Tomato soup and grilled cheese is a go to comfort food for my family’s
    bmedrano34@yahoo.com

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  24. I love tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches they are good any time. Debra Woloson daw655(at)hotmail(dot)com

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  25. I'm not a big fan of tomatoes but I do Love the soup! Looking forward to your latest book.
    kpbarnett1941(at)aol(dot)com

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  26. My husband loves tomato soup I’ll haveto try thisone. Thanks for the recipe. Jconklin7911@gmail.com.

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  27. Great article, and a great recipe - I just know this book will be as awesome as the rest of the series

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  28. As much as I like most tomato products, I'm not a fan of them whole or in soup form.

    journeybound2010 AT gmail.com

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  29. Looks like tomato soup and grilled cheese have a lot of fans here!

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