Welcome to my Friday bonus feature called Karen’s Killer Fixin’s **Author Special**!! Today, in lieu of one of my own recipes, I’m going to introduce you to a new author who will share one of her favorite recipes. Not only will you and I occasionally learn how to make something new and delicious, but we’ll get a chance to check out some wonderful authors. Introducing author, LESLIE BUDEWITZ, and her favorite recipe for Laurel’s Tomato-Basil Soup!
THE SOLACE OF BAY LEAVES
A Spice Shop Mystery Book 5
BY LESLIE BUDEWITZ
“The character-driven mystery is darker than many cozies. Readers attracted to unusual settings and mature, introspective amateur sleuths will appreciate this intricately plotted story depicting the impact of murder on the family and community.
— Library Journal Starred Review
A cozy and savory mystery blend of spices, murder and amateur sleuths in Seattle
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.
Every recipe tells a story.
Every recipe is a story. It’s not so much the list of ingredients or the how-tos. It’s the memory of the first time we had the Boeuf Bourguinon in Paris that we’re attempting to recreate at home, or the connection with the friend who served us our first paella. It’s the holiday brunch where everyone raves over the once-a-year caramel rolls, or making your elderly mother the shrimp scampi she’d been craving in your newly-remodeled kitchen.
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 history as a bank building, “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 I remembered. Or what my mouth thought I 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.
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 chilly 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.
Leslie Budewitz blends her passion for food, great mysteries, and the Northwest in two light-hearted mystery series: the Spice Shop Mysteries, set in Seattle, and the Food Lovers’ Village Mysteries, set in northwest Montana. Her books focus on strong women who share her passions and have a talent for finding trouble!
Leslie is the first author to win Agatha Awards for both fiction and nonfiction. Death al Dente, first in the Food Lovers’ Village Mysteries, won the 2013 Agatha Award for Best First Novel. Her guide for writers, Books, Crooks & Counselors: How to Write Accurately About Criminal Law and Courtroom Procedure, won the 2011 Agatha Award for Best Nonfiction.
A Montana native, Leslie graduated from Seattle University and Notre Dame Law School. After practicing in Seattle for several years—and shopping and eating her way through the Pike Place Market regularly—she returned to Montana, where she still practices law part-time. Killing people—on the page—is more fun.
A true believer in the power of writers helping other writers, Leslie served as president of Sisters in Crime (SinC) in 2015-16, and a founding member of the Guppies, the SinC chapter for new and unpublished writers. She is the Montana representative to the board of the Rocky Mountain chapter of Mystery Writers of America, and is also a member of the Authors of the Flathead and Montana Women Writers.
Leslie loves to cook, eat, hike, travel, garden, and paint—not necessarily in that order. She lives in northwest Montana with her husband, Don Beans, a singer-songwriter and doctor of natural medicine, and their gray Tuxedo, named Squirt but usually called Mr. Kitten. Because what else would you call a 13-year-old, 17-pound killer and cuddler who always dresses in formal attire?
Leslie is a 2018 Agatha Award winner for Best Short Story and also a recipient of the 2018 Derringer Award in the Long Story category.
Links to Leslie’s website, blog, books, etc.:
Find all of her buy links here:
I hope you enjoy the recipe Leslie is sharing today on Karen’s Killer Fixin’s. Happy Eating!
P.S. We’re at 503 recipes and counting with this posting. Hope you find some recipes you like. If this is your first visit, please check out past blogs for more Killer Fixin’s. In the right-hand column menu, you can even look up past recipes by type. i.e. Desserts, Breads, Beef, Chicken, Soups, Author Specials, etc.
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.
(Recipe excerpted from The Solace of Bay Leaves by Leslie Budewitz, published by Seventh St. Books, October 2020.)
Thanks, Leslie, for sharing your story with us!
Don’t miss the chance to read this book!