SOUP SWAP: COMFORTING RECIPES TO MAKE AND SHARE

By Kathy Gunst

Chronicle Books, 2016

176 pages, $24.95

ISBN 978- 1-4521-4836-6

Well, Christmas is over and winter is really here. Some people actually like winter for all sorts of reasons. A few believe winter is good for only two things — long afternoon naps and soup-making. And Kathy Gunst likes soup.

Gunst lives in southern Maine and is an award-winning food journalist and author of 14 cookbooks. “Soup Swap” is a clever soup cookbook with a nice entertainment twist — simple tips for hosting soup parties where guests bring homemade soups to share, with enough left over to take home. The book contains 62 soup recipes with additional recipes for side dishes and soup garnishes.

Gunst smartly includes soup recipes for all types of soups — hot or cold, dairy-free, gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan soups. She advocates for making your own soup stock, too, because you can control how much sodium you want (canned and boxed stocks are often heavily salted).

Gunst convinces you that soup-making is easy. Once you’ve completed a few preliminary preparations, “mostly soup does its own thing.”

Sections highlight broths and stocks, vegetable soups, chicken and turkey soups, meat soups, and fish and seafood soups and chowders. Vegetable soups include recipes for pumpkin, chestnut, carrot and mushroom soups, as well as the No Cream Cream of Celery Root Soup. Chicken soups include chicken soup with matzo balls, which she calls “Jewish penicillin” because it is so healthy.

Meat soups (meat in moderation) include Portuguese kale, white bean and chorizo soup, as well as lamb and lentil soup. And of course, for seafood she features oyster stew, cioppino, and sausage and clam stew.

Helpful sidebars reveal how to easily remove that layer of fat from a pot of meat stock, and why you should always cook pasta and rice separately before adding to any soup.

AMONG THE SHADOWS: A DETECTIVE BYRON MYSTERY

By Bruce Robert Coffin

Witness Impulse, 2016

392 pages, $11.99

ISBN 978-0-06-256947-9

In 1985, 10 police officers in Portland’s Special Reaction Team tried to arrest four armored car robbers. In a wild gunfight, one policeman and three robbers are killed, but one robber and $1.4 million disappeared.

Detective Sergeant John Byron’s father was a member of the SRT in that shootout, and he’s never forgotten what happened to his father. Decades later, Byron is a homicide detective with the Portland Police Department, a 20-year veteran, a boozer and risk-taker, soon to be divorced.

“Among The Shadows” is the debut mystery by Bruce Coffin, a real homicide detective recently retired from the PPD. For a first novel, Coffin’s Detective Sergeant Byron is in good company with Maine mystery writer Kate Flora’s Portland detective Joe Burgess and his many excellent mysteries.

This is a complex, but well-structured plot with careful foreshadowing and subtle red herrings to keep the reader guessing. Coffin clearly has storytelling talent and is already working on a sequel to this suspenseful, fast-paced and entertaining mystery.

The unattended death of a retired cop is mildly interesting to Byron, but the murder of another retired cop gets his attention, especially when he discovers both victims were members of that 1985 SRT.

Byron and his partner, Detective Diane Joyner, quickly find themselves in a tricky and deadly dilemma — their investigation has attracted the unwelcome and obstructive attention of the department’s top brass, and they suddenly realize there are very few fellow officers they can trust. A cooperative FBI agent helps level the field, but there are hidden dangers there, too.

As more dead bodies stack up, frightening connections appear, and Byron now wonders about the real circumstances of his father’s apparent suicide in 1985. And there may be more than a killer just steps away.

Bill Bushnell lives and writes in Harpswell.

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