[review + recipe + giveaway] Blue Corn Soup by Caroline Stutson and Teri Weidner

Brrrrrrrrr!

When it’s snowy out, and the world has turned into a frosted fairyland, it’s nice to keep warm indoors and read a tasty picture book.

What could be better than cuddling up with your favorite blankie on a comfy sofa, while a pot of homemade soup gently burbles on the stove? Oh, that tempting aroma wafting through the house. Mmmmmm!

I’m definitely in the mood for Blue Corn Soup (Sleeping Bear Press, 2017), how about you? Written by the late Caroline Stutson and illustrated by Teri Weidner, this cozy rhyming picture book will warm the cockles of your heart and send you straight to the kitchen.

It all begins one snowy day when Mouse, a.k.a. Abuelita, decides to make a pot of soup.

Whiskers wiggle. Eyes grow bright.
Mouse peeks out. The canyon’s white.
Snow — she blinks. She’ll grind dried corn.
Blue corn soup will keep her warm.

Abuelita fills her pot.
She’ll make sopa — not a lot;
just enough for one small mouse,
cozy in her sagebrush house.

As her soup begins to cook, its savory aroma drifts around the canyon, making her neighbors curious and hungry. She continues to taste and add more ingredients, convinced something is missing.

Meanwhile, the good smells prompt Chipmunk to leave his woodchopping. Is it sopa? He must find out.

Rabbit, who was drawing water from the well, can’t resist either. Sniff, sniff. Is it sopa? He, too, must find out.

The delicious aroma even awakens Old Bear from his winter nap. He’s a little grumpy, but when something smells that good, he decides he must investigate.

As Mouse stirs and tastes and adds chopped pepper, pine nuts and onion, Chipmunk, Rabbit and Old Bear follow the scent to Mouse’s house, hoping for a taste.

But when she greets them, they can plainly see she’s only made enough soup for one. Just when they turn to go, Mouse calls them back.

‘Wait!’ Mouse follows. ‘We can share.
Bring some food to Old Bear’s lair.’

Chipmunk brings a squash, Rabbit, a bucket of potatoes, and Old Bear, a chubby pumpkin. When they combine their ingredients, a little becomes a lot. But since these four friends have made something new together, it’s not plain blue corn soup anymore. They decide to call it Friendship Stew. And it’s so delicious!

As they enjoy their stew, the mystery of the missing ingredient is solved:

Neighbors gather on the floor,
sip their stew, and ask for more.
Nothing’s missing; all can see:
Food tastes best with company.

Thanks to Stutson’s jaunty, perfectly cadenced rhymes and skillful use of repetition, this take-off on the classic Stone SoupΒ  is a joy to read aloud. We are introduced to each of Mouse’s neighbors with the couplet:

PiΓ±on smoke drifts through the wood.
Someone’s cooking something good.

Then with slight variations for each animal (Chipmunk chatters, Rabbit bounces, Old Bear grumbles), there is the line “Is it sopa?/He’ll find out.”

As Abuelita is cooking, there is the catchy refrain:

Abuelita stirs her pot.
The sopa bubbles, thick and hot.
She will taste a tiny bit.
Something’s missing!
What–is–it?

It is easy to imagine kids chanting along, and the rule-of-three motif, with a sprinkling of Spanish words for added flavor, make for a fun and engaging story of friendship, sharing, and teamwork.

Teri Weidner’s watercolors, rendered in soft, subdued tones, are gentle, warm and welcoming. Her animal characters are adorable and cuddly without being overly cutesy. Simple articles of clothing — a scarf for Mouse and Old Bear, a vest for Rabbit, a hat for Chipmunk — humanize them just enough to make them distinctive and accessible.

The billowing clouds of piΓ±on smoke drifting through the pages and enveloping the characters with its irresistible scent add a dreamlike quality to this wintry tale.

I especially love the pictures of Mouse cooking. She may be small, but she manages to grind what to her are giant kernels of blue corn, chop a huge bell pepper and slice a big onion. Kids will enjoy the contrast between her tiny cast iron pot and Old Bear’s large one, noting that someone so small can be friends with (rather than afraid of) someone that big.

My favorite spread is probably the one with the four animals eating their soup, holding big spoons to their mouths. Deep bowls of soup and good company on a cold winter’s day. Who could ask for anything more? A recipe, you say? Yes, the book ends with a lipsmacking recipe for Blue Corn Soup. πŸ™‚

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πŸ₯„ A TASTE OF BLUE CORN SOUP 🍲

Blue Corn (hopi maize) was an interesting choice for the author to make, and I imagine she knew it would instantly arouse the curiosity of readers who are used to eating only yellow or white corn.

I had certainly seen it, but thought of it mainly as ornamental. It’s definitely in keeping with Stutson’s Southwestern theme, and since making the recipe, I’ve learned, to my delight and surprise, that blue corn is quite a healthy option. It has about 20% more protein, more iron and zinc, and less fat than its white and yellow counterparts, and the protein is more complete due to its amino acid profile.

Alas, I could not find blue cornmeal after trying three different grocery stores, including Whole Foods, which I was sure would carry it. Perhaps it’s more widely available out West. But Whole Foods did carry blue corn tortilla chips, so I got to taste those and feel less guilty about eating chips. πŸ™‚

The recipe only calls for three tablespoons of blue cornmeal, so I knew substituting with yellow cornmeal wouldn’t alter the taste of the soup.

Much like vegetarian chili, this soup is hearty and satisfying, just the thing for lunch or dinner after a day outside playing in the snow or braving the chilly winds of city streets. With black beans, corn, butternut squash, potatoes, green pepper and onion, and spices like chili powder and ground cumin, one can be assured of a zesty, nourishing pick-me-up any time.

The tantalizing aroma did indeed arouse the curiosity of the resident leprechaun/occasional sous chef. “What smells so good?” Len asked. My blue corn soup, which I had on a gentle simmer on a Sunday afternoon, enticed him to come downstairs to investigate. We enjoyed a yummy bowl that evening with a fresh baguette and butter, and I had some for lunch the next day with blue corn tortilla chips.

Make this soup soon to see what new friends will knock on your door. πŸ™‚

BLUE CORN SOUP

  • Servings: a lot
  • Difficulty: average
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 small onions, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 green pepper, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons blue cornmeal (may substitute with yellow or white cornmeal)
  • 5 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 can (28 ounces) diced tomatoes, with juice
  • 2 cans (15 ounces) black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 cups frozen corn
  • 2 cups chopped butternut squash
  • 2 cups chopped potatoes
  • Toppings: grated cheese, toasted pine nuts

Directions

  1. Heat oil in a large soup pot. Add onions, garlic, and green pepper. Season with chili powder, cumin, salt, and pepper. Cook, stirring, until vegetables are soft.
  2. Add the blue cornmeal, broth, tomatoes, black beans, corn, squash, and potatoes. Bring to a simmer, cover pot, and cook until squash and potatoes are tender — about 40 minutes.
  3. Top with cheese and toasted pine nuts.
  4. Share with friends.

~ from Blue Corn Soup by Caroline Stutson and Teri Weidner (Sleeping Bear Press, 2017), as posted at Jama’s Alphabet Soup

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BLUE CORN SOUP
written by Caroline Stutson
illustrated by Teri Weidner
published by Sleeping Bear Press, August 2017
Picture Book for ages 4-8, 32 pp.
*Includes Blue Corn Soup recipe

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πŸ“˜ SPECIAL BOOK GIVEAWAY! πŸ“˜

The publisher has generously donated a copy of Blue Corn Soup for one lucky Alphabet Soup reader. For a chance to win, please leave a comment at this post telling us what your favorite soup is no later than midnight Wednesday (EST), January 31, 2018. You may also enter by sending an email with BLUE CORN in the subject line to: readermail (at) jamakimrattigan (dot) com. Giveaway open to residents of the U.S. and Canada only, please. Good Luck!

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HAPPY NATIONAL SOUP MONTH!

πŸ₯„ πŸ₯„ πŸ₯„

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The lovely Carol Varsalona is hosting the Roundup at Beyond Literacy Link. Sashay on over and check out the full menu of poetic goodness being shared in the blogosphere this week. Happy Weekend!

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This post is also being linked to Beth Fish Read’s Weekend Cooking, where all are invited to share their food-related posts. Put on your best aprons and bibs and come join the fun!


*Interior spreads posted by permission of the publisher, text copyright Β© 2017 Caroline Stutson, illustrations Β© 2017 Teri Weidner, published by Sleeping Bear Press. All rights reserved.

** This post contains Amazon Affiliate links. When you purchase something using a link on this site, Alphabet Soup receives a small referral fee (at no extra cost to you). Thank you for your support!

**Copyright Β© 2018 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

87 thoughts on “[review + recipe + giveaway] Blue Corn Soup by Caroline Stutson and Teri Weidner

  1. Oh, my goodness…what a wonderful review. I am printing the recipe out as I type this. I love the whimsy with warm-hearted soul lesson of this story. Excellent book. I’m so glad it’s in the world. I know a few kids that would love to see a book similar to their Abuelita. Thank you for this, Jama!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Oh! And my favorite soup? That’s like asking me what my favorite book is….whatever I just read. Currently, I am enjoying cauliflower bisque. It’s warm and cozy and gives me the full feeling when I’m trying to keep the calories down!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Friendship Stew — how sweet!
    I’m definitely making Blue Corn Soup. We have fruits and veg delivered every Thursday and the latest box had five yellow squash in it. Not sure what the heck I will do with so much yellow squash, but maybe some can go in this soup instead of the butternut squash?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks for the link! Sometimes I hesitate to buy food products online because I can’t see the pull date. WF carries Bobs Red Mill products but not the blue cornmeal. I’ll have to check out Amy’s tomato bisque — I’ve had some other soups from that brand but not the tomato bisque.

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  4. This book looks absolutely wonderful from the perfectly rhyming text, lovely illustrations, and the recipe which I’m trying out tonight.
    We love soup around here – I made a halibut soup with green curry and corn the other night which was rather fabulous if I do say so myself.
    And, I love the word “burbles” that you used to describe soup bubbling on the stove. I’m adding it to my vocabulary.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Oh, halibut with green curry and corn — sounds like a fab combination! There’s nothing like homemade soup. πŸ™‚ Hope you enjoy the Blue Corn Soup, especially while it’s burbling. . . πŸ˜€

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  5. I loved this post. There is nothing more comforting than a bowl of homemade soup on a cold Ohio night. One of my favorites is vegetable beef. My secret ingredient is a small bottle of V-8 Juice. Thanks for a lovely read (and recipe) Jama !

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Oh, wow – what an adorable little book, and the rhyme is perfect. And! This is tortilla soup on the fancy side. The squash and pine nuts aren’t ingredients I’ve usually added, but why the heck not?? I’m amused that it enticed Len, obviously, it MUST be good.

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  7. Jama, I used to say what can be better than a pot of soup on a cold winter day and now I can say, add a book to the meal to make it complete. This post is just filled with so much yumminess today. I love making soup. My favorite new ingredient is pureed pumpkin so I placed some in my chicken vegetable soup the other day and pureed the entire pot. The pot is on the stove for tonight’s dinner but I think blue corn soup should be my next batch of soup. Thanks for this.

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  8. What a delightfully cozy post, Jama. It left me wanting to curl up with some of your sweet stuffies and read Blue Corn Soup to them. My Kindergarteners would just love this book! And the soup would warm us from our heads down to our tootsies. Thank you for brightening my mood on this chilly winter’s day, ending a very long week of indoor recesses. 😦

    Liked by 2 people

  9. What a wonderful review. Blue Corn Soup is just what this cold weather calls for. I love all soup, and picking a favorite is hard, but I do love a great New England Clam Chowder (Chowdah if your from Maine).

    Liked by 2 people

  10. I am going to try this next weekend in the crockpot. I’ll let you know if it works! Ordering some blue cornmeal…
    I used to love books with recipes in them and cook with first graders. This would be a great one…maybe for the grandkids’ visit!

    Liked by 2 people

  11. We had an unseasonably cool weather here in Singapore a few days ago that lasted for almost a week along with strong rains and wind – this would have been a perfect antidote to that cold. And those soup images made my mouth water – here is me showing my husband, so he can make me one of those! πŸ™‚

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Not only is this book perfect for your blog, it looks to be all kinds of perfect for readers and story times! You highlighted the parts I loved the best — the repetition, the Spanish words, and the magic of 3!

    Liked by 2 people

  13. Oh I adore the rhymes, the message, and the absolutely gorgeous watercolors. And it makes me smile to see that you indeed shared your soup with friends. I could eat soup every single day and love all kinds, but there is something to warming and comforting about split pea.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. Everything about this post is delish, Jama! I’m partial to turkey chili (day one it’s soup, thereafter it thickens), with cranberry, butternut squash, beans, and corn. An all-America original!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Perfectly cozy to have soup simmering on the stove on a chilly day, and what a lovely book to share. A shame about no blue corn, perhaps it could be ordered online?

    Liked by 2 people

  16. What a wonderful post. Caroline was a friend of mine back when we lived in Colorado, and I got to read an early version of this text years ago. She had such a gift for language and rhythm. I just bought the book last week thinking I’d feature it on PictureBookBuilders, and was excited to see it here! I like the idea that she’s living on through her books (and these posts). By the way, when I read the recipe in the book it looked very tasty. I’m happy to see that it is!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. What a small world . . . Jessica Swaim said the same thing, about knowing Caroline and reading the mss in its early stages. Were you all in the same critique group? πŸ™‚ It really is nice that she’s living on through her books (Jessica mentioned another of Caroline’s books coming out soon). Looking forward to your post at PictureBookBuilders!

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      1. Yes, Jessica is a friend, too, and both were part of a larger writer group in CO (some were in a critique group together, but I was just there for the friendship). As Jessica knows, I love her work–she, too, has an amazing gift for language and rhythm (and humor!). I didn’t know that another of Caroline’s ms will be published–so happy to hear that!

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  17. Wish I lived close enough to knock on your door… I’m sure your version was scrumptious! I do love those blue corn chips. Thank you for sharing this lovely book, which seems to have a few other folktales and themes subtly stirred in. Love “just enough for one small mouse,/cozy in her sagebrush house” — I’m glad this author’s beautiful words will continue to reach young readers.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Wouldn’t it be cool if I made this soup again, and blog readers far and wide smelled it and found their way here? Mr C would bring out the party hats. πŸ™‚

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  18. I love the comforting story & illustrations, to reflect how comforting soup can be.
    My favorite soup is chicken tortilla soup, but we would love to try blue corn soup

    Liked by 2 people

  19. Deliciouso, Jama! Since moving to Switzerland we’ve been eating more soup – the weather is MUCH cooler than when we lived in Tucson (understatement). Our favorite soup is my mom’s pea soup recipe. Unfortunately, it was a challenge finding dried split peas here. Six stores later, we had success. Blue corn chips are the best, and definitely a guilt-free snack. πŸ˜‰

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Glad to hear you finally found those split peas — 6 stores is quite a scavenger hunt! Lucky you, Switzerland is such a beautiful country!

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  20. This looks like such a cute book – thanks for sharing the news about it, Jama! I make a vegan chili that many folks don’t even realize is meatless, so that would be my first choice of soups – although since it might not be considered “soup,” I’ll go with my homemade split pea soup. (And the secret to INCREDIBLE split pea soup…allspice!)

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  21. This sopa sounds like it might work in the Crock Pot! I love blue corn tortilla chips, too! My favorite soup is seafood chowder, but I love tomato-chili pepper, Southwestern-style soups, too! The book looks charming and fun to read with children.

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  22. What a great book and recipe. I just printed the recipe! My favorite soup would have to be plain old vegetable made from the orphan veggies in our fridge. It’s always different that way. My runner up would be fish chowder.
    I would love to be part of this giveaway and my granddaughter would like this book.

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