Sunday, November 29, 2020

Creamy Roasted Red Pepper Soup with Pimiento Cheese Biscuits for Dipping for Cook the Books Oct/Nov Pick: "The Secret, Book & Scone Society" & Souper Sundays

As November comes to a close, so does the current round of Cook the Books and as usual, I am coming in under the wire with my post for The Secret, Book & Scone Society by Ellery Adams, hosted by Simona of briciole. (See her announcement post here.) I'll be giving you my thoughts on the book along with a couple of tasty recipes for Creamy Roasted Red Pepper Soup with Pimiento Cheese Biscuits for dipping and dunking.

I was very happy that Simona picked The Secret, Book & Scone Society as our October/November read because I had purchased the e-book ages ago and needed that push to finally get it read. I had even forgotten the premise of the book and had it in my head that it was set in Scotland (the scones I guess?) instead of western North Carolina. But once I opened the pages I was hooked and ended up buying the other two books in the series (on e-book sale, yay!) as I was reading it. 

Here's the Publisher's Blurb:

A quirky club in small-town North Carolina holds the keys to health, happiness, friendship—and even solving a murder—all to be found within the pages of the right book…

Strangers flock to Miracle Springs hoping the natural hot springs, five-star cuisine, and renowned spa can cure their ills. If none of that works, they often find their way to Miracle Books, where, over a fresh-baked “comfort” scone, they exchange their stories with owner Nora Pennington in return for a carefully chosen book. That’s Nora’s special talent—prescribing the perfect novel to ease a person’s deepest pain. So when a visiting businessman reaches out for guidance, Nora knows exactly how to help. But before he can keep their appointment, he’s found dead on the train tracks.
Stunned, Nora forms the Secret, Book, and Scone Society, a group of damaged souls yearning to earn redemption by helping others. To join, members must divulge their darkest secret—the terrible truth that brought each of them to Miracle Springs in the first place. Now, determined to uncover the truth behind the businessman’s demise, the women meet in Nora’s cozy bookstore. And as they untangle a web of corruption, they also discover their own courage, purpose, and a sisterhood that will carry them through every challenge—proving it’s never too late to turn the page and start over…

I'm a a cozy mystery fan and especially a fan of foodie or bookish cozies and this book combines all of these elements. The town of Miracle Springs, North Carolina and the little bit of magic that can be found there drew me in. I believe in the healing power of books and love stories where a bookseller can suss out the exact book or books a person needs and Nora, our MC, does that for townspeople and visitors alike, inspired by a kind hospital nurse who helped her in her hour of need. She has some dark secrets holding her back from connecting with people outside of her bookstore and so when a murder brings her together with other local women trying to heal and hide away from their secrets and pasts, they form a group and slowly become friends as each shares their secrets to build trust. Where does the food come in? With Hester, the local bakery owner who can determine what kind of scone would comfort someone, plus there are mentions of delicious-sounding food throughout the story. It's a cozy, so the mystery of the murder isn't too hard to solve--although there was a surprise or two in there. For me the heart of the story is the friendship and redemption of the four main characters and how friendship, books, and food can comfort us and bring us together. It was a good escape during stressful times, and I look forward to learning more about Nora, Hester, Estella, and June in future books. 

As I mentioned, there was plenty of food in the book from the comfort scones (in flavors like chocolate chip, cheese and ham, apple-cinnamon, peanut butter and chocolate, and red berry jam-filled), cinnamon twists, chamomile tea, champagne, cheddar cheese straws and peach pie bites, lemonade, fresh blackberries, corn bread, chili, snack mix, coconut shrimp, mango and basil martinis, a basket stuffed with breads--dill rolls, cornbread muffins, rosemary flatbread, and pimiento cheese biscuits with bowls of honey butter and roasted red pepper spread for spreading and dipping, chicken-fried steak, hush puppies, fried chicken, chess pie, hummingbird cake, cheese grits and sausage gravy, fried catfish, Cobb salad, strawberry milkshakes, eggs, bacon toast and an iced tea, coffee drinks named for authors, green beans, cookies and eclairs, egg-salad sandwich, vanilla yogurt topped with wild raspberries and blackberries, cucumber salad and white chicken enchiladas, Thanksgiving turkey, cookies, muffins, cobbler, bagels and cream puffs, spinach salad, corn on the cob, bacon-wrapped tenderloin, sliced watermelon, Peppermint Pattie, dark chocolate and strawberry, banana split and samoa-flavored s'mores, stir-fried bok choy, coffee and book-shaped puff pastry, 

With all of that inspiration, I did have in mind to try a scone but as I state pretty frequently, "I am not a baker!' Also, I was more intrigued by the mention of the pimento cheese biscuits and the roasted red pepper spread out of a bread basket Nora and her friends noshed on than I was with the scones. Since it is Sunday, i adjusted the roasted red pepper dip to be a Creamy Roasted Red Pepper Soup (a Giada recipe) to dunk my Pimiento Cheese Biscuits in. Being not a baker, and wanting something easy, I doctored up a cheddar biscuit mix for my biscuits (this one), but if you have a favorite recipe, you could use it instead. 
Creamy Red Pepper Soup
Slightly Adapted from Giada de Laurentiis via 
(Yields 4 to 8 Servings) 
4 Tbsp olive oil
Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add the onions, carrots, garlic, and thyme and saute until the onions are translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the broth, bell peppers, potato, wine, and sugar. Bring to a simmer over high heat. Decrease the heat to medium-low. Partially cover and simmer until the potatoes are very tender, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes. Cool the soup slightly.  
Using an immersion hand blender, puree the soup in the pot until it is smooth. Alternately, working in batches, puree the soup in a regular blender, taking care while blending warm liquids. Season the soup, to taste, with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add the bread cubes and saute until they are crisp and golden, about 8 minutes.

Ladle the soup into bowls. Dollop a tablespoon of mascarpone in the center of each bowl and top with croutons. Sprinkle with pepper and serve. 

Pimiento-Cheese Biscuits
By Deb, Kahakai Kitchen & Red Lobster Cheddar Bay Biscuits
(Makes About 10 Biscuits)
a package of your favorite biscuit mix or your favorite biscuit recipe
3/4 cup cold milk (replace the water for biscuit mix)
3/4 cup freshly grated extra sharp cheddar cheese
4 oz jar diced pimientos, well drained
1/2 cup chopped scallions (I use just the green tops)
1/4 cup butter, melted
your favorite herb seasoning

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. 
Follow the directions on the biscuit mix--basically stir in the mix, cheese, pimientos, green onion and cold milk gently together--not over-mixing it. Scopp dougn (about 1/4-1/3 cup  and place 2-inches apart on sheet. 

Bake 14-16 minutes, until golden brown. Mix herbs into melted butter and spoon or brush butter sauce on the tops of the biscuits. Serve immediately. 

Notes/Results: The soup is rich and creamy and has good roasted pepper flavor. I like the mascarpone topping but you could use sour cream, yogurt, creme fraiche or cream cheese if you prefer. The biscuits were cheesy and good, not too heavy but buttery and a little decadent. Together they make a fabulous combination. I will happily make both recipes again.

Thanks to Simona for picking this book and hosting. The deadline for this round of Cook The Books is tomorrow, November 30th. If you missed this round and like food, books and foodie books, join us for our December/January pick, Eat Joy: Stories & Comfort from 31 Celebrated Writers and hosted by yours truly.

This post is linked up at I Heart Cooking Clubs where this week's theme is Pilgrim Plate. Not sure that Giada's soup is a typical Thanksgiving dish but 2020 was not your typical Thanksgiving so I think it qualifies! ;-)

Now let's check into the Souper Sundays kitchen

Crafty Gardener is here with a Potato and Ham Soup, saying "This is a good recipe for using up left over ham and along with potatoes, onions, mushrooms, celery and a cream soup it makes a delicious soup made in the crock pot. As usual I tend to tweak recipes that I find to suit myself, so this is one that I put together myself."

Judee of Gluten Free A - Z Blog brought Butternut Squash and Apple Soup and said, "Butternut Squash makes a delicious soup that is slightly sweet, thick, and satisfying. Add some apple and you have a genuinely nourishing rich autumn soup. The beautiful bright orange color, so reminiscent of the season, brings warmth and a glow to our fall table."

Thank you for joining me this week Judee and Crafty Gardener!

(If you aren't familiar with Souper Sundays, you can read about of the origins of it here.
If you would like to join in Souper (Soup, Salad, and Sammie) Sundays, I would love to have you! Here's how...

To join in this week's Souper Sunday's linkup with your soup, salad or sandwich:
  • Link up your soup (stew, chili, soupy curries, etc. are fine), salad, or sandwich dish, (preferably one from the current week or month--but we'll take older posts too) on the picture link below and leave a comment on this post so I am sure not to miss you. Also please see below for what to do on your blog post that you link up to Souper Sundays in order to be included in the weekly round-up.

On your entry post (on your blog):
  • Mention Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammies) Sundays at Kahakai Kitchen and add a link back to this post. (Not to be a pain but it's polite and only fair to link back to events you link up at--so if you link a post up here without linking back to this post or my blog on your post, it will be removed.)
  • You are welcome to add the Souper Sundays logo to your post and/or blog (completely optional).

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter

Have a happy, healthy week!


  1. I really enjoyed that book too, and I’m also a cozy mystery fan. After reading it I tried a few different scone recipes.

  2. Deb,
    Your soup and the biscuits look really good! Love the combination!

  3. I've got a can of red pepper soup out on the cabinet for lunch. I so wish I had time today (in between Zooming) to make these biscuits. (And, homemade soup!)

  4. So glad you enjoyed the book, Deb. And I like your choice of recipe. Roasted red peppers are irresistible, IMHO. I will think about your "biscuits for dipping" idea when I make soup next. Thank you for your contribution to Cook the Books Club :)

  5. I'm glad you chose to go savory Deb. The soup sounds delicious and who doesn't love cheddar cheese biscuits.

  6. I'm with you on the cozy mysteries, and finished her next two soon after. What a lovely pairing with the Creamy Red Pepper soup and Pimento Cheese biscuits! We've been getting a bit of nice soup weather, haven't we.


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