Would you like to help me with my next book? I am developing recipes for the second book in the Bartonville series, “Road to the Colony”. In one of the novelettes (the book has three), I mention a vegetable soup and I would like to include the recipe for it. I’ve listed within the story a few ingredients that I want to include (see excerpt below), but I need more.

What are your favorite ingredients to add to vegetable soup? Would you care to share with me? Any suggestions will be greatly appreciated!

Excerpt from “Road to the Colony” (coming summer 2013)

The kitchen smelled heavenly when Emma walked into the room. Open shelves lined the walls, filled with mismatched plates, bowls and coffee mugs. The counter tops were made of stainless steel, giving the place a funky, industrial feel. Carson was standing in front of the large stove, stirring the contents of a sizzling frying pan. The auburn-haired, human alarm clock was chopping broccoli on the butcher block topped island. “Hello again,” she said. “My name is Avery.”

“Hi. I’m Emma, but I guess you already know that.”

Carson turned and smiled. “Welcome back to the real world, Sleeping Beauty. I’m making my famous Mega Veggie Soup. Even if you’re a carnivore, I guarantee you’ll love it.”

“That’s a lofty claim.”

“I’m a very confident man.”

“I’m sure you are. Not everybody can pull off green hair.”

“Wait until tomorrow. You’ll think a unicorn puked rainbow hair dye on the crowd.” Carson handed her a bowl of tomatoes and a serrated knife. He winked. “I’ll start you chopping up the vegetables that don’t resemble fingers, just in case you’re still tired. Could you seed these and then cut them into big chunks?”

Emma nodded. “I’m not feeling too bad after my nap. I think I can handle carrots, too, if you need them.”

Avery chuckled as she pulled a wooden cutting board out from its place on a wire shelf under the island and set it down next to her. “You can work here next to me. Carson said you’re going to Flutter Con, too. We can chat while we work as his kitchen slaves.” She winked. “I think everybody staying here tonight is going.”

The hostel was full of Flutter Con participants? She hadn’t expected that. When she selected a knife from the block in the center of the island she noticed a glimmer in Avery’s hair. Thin, silver threads twisted through her auburn curls. As Emma sliced into the first tomato she asked, “So are people going to think I’m weird for having plain, brown hair?”

“No, people won’t think you’re weird. Pretty much anything goes at these types of conventions,” Avery said. “Although if you do want to do something with your hair I could help. We can run over to the convenience store across the street and get some Kool-Aid to dye it. Grape or cherry would look fabulous.”

“Those colors would clash with my fairy outfit. It’s white and blue with lots of sparkles. Besides, I don’t think my bosses would be happy. The woman I clean offices with at night wouldn’t mind, but my manager at the gas station would probably fire me. He doesn’t even like dangly earrings.”

“Dress codes are discriminatory to creative people.” Avery winked. She grabbed a couple zucchini out of the shopping bag sitting on the counter. “So you need something temporary. How about hair tinsel and glitter spray? I can put the tinsel in tonight and I’ll let you borrow my glitter spray tomorrow morning.”

“That would be great. You have tinsel in your hair, right?”

“Yes. It’s similar to the stuff you put on a Christmas tree. You just tie it onto a few strands of hair and you can snip it out when you’re done.”

“Awesome. I’d love to try it.”

Soon more people joined the food prep brigade. As she chatted she soon found out that all of the people staying at the hostel weren’t just going to Flutter Con, they were all vendors. Some were there because they couldn’t afford other accommodations, but others were there just because they enjoyed the jovial camaraderie of sharing space with a bunch of creative people. Visiting the hostel was a tradition with many of them. When the soup was done the boisterous group settled around the long dining table that was stretched to its maximum length by using half a dozen leaves. Colorful, mismatched bowls were filled with the savory soup, a tomato-y broth loaded with a dozen different kinds of vegetables, from yukon gold potatoes to red peppers. A basket of biscuits, made by a wooden spoon artisan, was passed around. Even though she was far from where she lived Emma had never felt so much at home. As people chatted about their new projects and compared sales figures, she absorbed it all like a sponge. It had been five years since she went to art school. Leaving after only one year, when her scholarship money ran out, was devastating. Traces of the resulting depression still lingered, especially after a rough shift at work or a run-in with Michelle. Being a full-time artist had been her dream since she was fourteen years old. It seemed like that dream had floated so far out of reach she would never be able to capture it. Now the dream’s bubble was drifting so close she could almost touch it.

This post is linked to Weekend Cooking at Beth Fish Reads

24 thoughts on “What Ingredient Would You Add? (With Excerpt)

  1. I love this book already!! I have an email half finished for you and I will send you a dynamite b=veggie soup recipe too.

  2. If I were making vegetable soup, I’d make something with seasonal vegetables for the freshest flavors: so since it’s spring (sort of), I’d go with leeks and asparagus and maybe some new potatoes – I’d probably make a springtime minestrone type of thing.

    And everyone should have tinsel in their hair. At all times.

    1. Those are some great suggestions. I just realized I never designated a season within the story, other than it’s warm, so I could make it spring. And yes, tinsel would be a great every day hair accessory. 🙂

  3. What a lovely segment. Potatoes, spinach, and carrots are required veggies for my anytime veggie soup. I love the leek and asparagus suggestions for Spring also.

    1. I think all of your suggestions would go well in a nice vegetable soup. A bit of greens is always good and helps brighten it up a bit.

    1. Two more good suggestions. Some crunch from the celery and the mellow butteriness of the cauliflower.

  4. Janel, for me a good veggie soup has to have either potato, rice, or split peas in it to thicken it up. After that onions and garlic of course. Other vegetables according to what colour you want the soup to end up. As to texture I like usually to leave it rustic but sometimes do puree it. Best of luck with the book.

    1. I didn’t think of thickening it, but I definitely want to do that. It’s supposed to be nice and hearty and a that equates to a thick broth to me. I’ll probably use the rice.

  5. Yes on the seasonal veggies. leeks, asparagus — maybe snow peas or sugar snap peas. Chives are so good right now for garnish.

    1. I love sugar snap peas. I think those will definitely go in! Chives for a garnish is a great idea, too.

  6. I think all of these ideas are great, celery and garlic and chives came to mind immediately for me. I really like the color and taste of beets, but I don’t think I’ve ever had them in a soup, so I’m not sure that’s a great suggestion. I think beets have a great earthy and sweet taste.

    But maybe some others would sweet onion, rhubarb, and radishes or sugar snap peas

    1. I like beets too. Maybe the yellow ones so it wouldn’t stain the whole soup. Radishes would be a good garnish, too!

  7. Hi Janel,

    Leeks are always a great addition to any soup for flavour and always work well when used with potatoes as a thickener.

    Carrott and coriander is also another great combination.

    I love just about any soup, so long as it is really thick and hearty. I can’t stand runny soup or consomme.

    I hope that the creative juices keep flowing as well for your writing, as they are for your soup recipe!


    1. Your suggestion of coriander just reminded me that I need to figure out spices, too. I’m with you on the thick soup preference. I just seems so much heartier and sticks to your ribs when it’s thick.

    1. Cabbage is good. Always cheap and filling. Maybe some Napa cabbage – just because that seems a bit more exotic and the characters in the story are artists…

  8. My first thought: parsley. A handful (or two) of fresh parsley. This soup sounds delicious with all of these good ideas!


    1. Yes, some fresh parsley right at the end of the cooking time, or even as a garnish, is great for brightening up a soup. Great idea!

    1. I love mushrooms, too. I bet some criminis or chunks of portabellos would add a nice “meaty” aspect to a vegetarian soup.

Comments are closed.