FRIDAY FEAST with Leisl Leighton

The Romance Writers of Australia conference is over for another year, and what a brilliant time was had by all. There is nothing quite so inspiring and warming as hanging with your tribe, and Fremantle was a fantastic location, well worth the trip to the west. I’ll be blogging about our fun and games later, so keep your eye out for that.

But first, to the task at hand and another Australian debut author. Leisl Leighton is a tall redhead with a big imagination, a double major in English Literature and Drama, a former career as an actor, singer and dancer, as well as script writer, stage manager, and musical director for cabaret and theatre restaurants. She also has a hubby, two boys and a dog named Buffy, and now she’s a published author of romantic suspense. Yup, this is one full-on life liver!

Leisl’s debut novel is the wonderfully titled Killing Me Softly. Take a look…




Killing Me Softly by Leisl Leighton coverReclusive record producer, Alexia Deningham, guards her privacy fiercely. When she agrees to work with superstar Daemon Flagherty, and his band, it is only on the condition that they stay with her at her isolated country estate.

Fresh from a messy divorce, Daemon is determined to focus on his music. He wants to work with the best and that means Lexi. He certainly isn’t looking for romance, but he finds himself intrigued by Lexi’s secretive behavior.

Despite Lexi’s reservations, their attraction grows.  But someone is watching Lexi. Someone who will stop at nothing to destroy the woman who has ruined his life. When his campaign of terror ratchets out of control, Lexi must fight for survival but who can she really trust?


How cool does that sound? I got all shivery just reading that blurb. Killing Me Softly can be yours now with just a few clickety-clicks. You can buy the ebook direct from the publisher Destiny Romance or try Kobo, iTunes, JB Hi-Fi Books, Google Play, Amazon Kindle or Angus and Robertson.

Please welcome Leisl to Friday Feast!




Unlike most of the sun loving country, I love winter. And this is the reason why:

When I was growing up, whenever winter rocked around, it meant two things in my house – hoping it would snow up at the mountains in time for our annual ski trip to Mt Buller and lots and lots of soup for lunch and dinner. My whole family loved our ski trip and we loved warming soup. And when the two were combined – sublime! For me, these two things are still something I look forward to every year.

My mum loves soup. She did then and she still does, and that has kind of rubbed off on me. She used to regularly make a huge pot of some kind of soup, some of which we would have for dinner and lunches over the next few days and some of which was put into the freezer for those nights she didn’t feel like cooking anything (something I can hugely relate to now I’m a working mum). Pea and ham, tomato, cauliflower and ham, broccoli, pumpkin with sweet potato and a hint of curry, potato and leak and the perennial favourite – minestrone. There were others she tried that weren’t so successful, but these were the ones we ate most often. I can still close my eyes and remember the smell of the hamhock cooking in the pot with the split peas, the rich, salty aroma that would pervade the house and make my stomach rumble and the satisfaction of finishing my bowl with a hunk of bread and butter to scoop up the dregs.

Yum!Spinach and rice soup in a bowl

My little family (husband, two sons) favourites are a bit different -: vegetable wonton soup, pumpkin, sweet potato and curry soup, chicken soup (my husband makes this with matzo balls just like his grandma used to make), a version of my mother’s minestrone and a fabulous soup I found a recipe to in a great Mediterranean cookbook  I have, spinach and rice soup.

While I love all of the above, the one that warms the cockles of my heart and fills my belly with yummy, warming goodness is my minestrone soup. Like much of my cooking, it’s based on what my mum used to do, but seeing I’m not a follow a recipe kind of girl (I like throwing things I feel like eating in a pot and adding stuff to taste), it has changed to something far more chunky.



Minestrone soup in the pot

The minestrone is something I make in a 10 litre pot like my mum used to do and freeze what isn’t eaten in the first few days. I don’t have a fixed recipe for it, because like traditional minestrone, it is made out of things I mostly have in the house. However, the things I mostly throw into it are:

½ celery (chopped roughly, leaves and all)

2 zucchini (grated)

1 parsnip (diced)

2 swede (diced)

4 carrots (grated)

Tin of red kidney beans (washed)

Tin of chick peas (washed)

1 ½ cups pearl barley (washed)

Diced beef (it’s better if it still has a little fat on it)

2 tins chopped tomatoes

Bag of spinach (or box of frozen spinach is fine)

4 litres vegetable stock

Basil (chopped)

Chili (chopped – or 1 tbls sambal oelek)

2 pinches of ginger

2 pinches of paprika

Salt and pepper to taste

I have also used onion, eggplant, cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, sweet potato, capsicum, mushrooms – pretty much any veg I’ve had in the fridge that I need to use and would go in a soup together well. You can also use any Italian herbs you like and add garlic too. I add garam masala spice instead (because, as I said, garlic doesn’t like me). I like different textures in the soup, which is why I grate some of the veg and chop or dice the rest.

Sauté the vegetables in some oil and the herbs and spices in the large pot, add the beef, let it cook through a little, throw in the tinned tomatoes, chick peas and kidney beans and stir, then add the vegetable stock and bring to boil. Minestrone soup in the bowlWhen it’s boiling, add the pearl barley and stir then drop to a simmer. The longer you can leave it on to simmer and cook, the better – 3-4 hours is good, occasionally stirring. My husband likes it thick, almost like a stew, but if you want it to be more soup-like, you could add more water or stock. You can even add some wine (red wine is best).

It’s best served with some parmesan and a hunk of fresh bread.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed sharing my love of soup with you on the Friday Feast. Thanks so much for having me here.


My pleasure to host you, Leisl, and thanks for that wonderfully soupy post! Soupadouping it up is one of things that makes winter tolerable (that and open fires, AFL footy, Guinness and red wine). Such a lovely comforting feeling to sit down with a steaming bowl of soup when it’s filthy outside.

Now sit up, my fine Feasters. Most generous person that she is, Leisl has offered give away to one lucky commenter a Kindle ebook copy of Killing Me Softly. Simply reveal which soup warms the cockles of your heart and you’ll go into the draw. Are you a hearty vegetable sort or maybe a traditional style chicken noodle? Perhaps you’re a hot n spicy type and crave a big bowl of blow-your-nostrils-out tom yum soup? Come along. Reveal all. We’re nosy buggers on the Feast and you could win!

Giveaway closes midnight Tuesday AEST, 27th August 2013. Ebook giveaway prize available in Kindle format only. Open internationally. Rah!

If you’d like to learn more about Leisl and her books please visit her website. You can also connect via Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads.

You can also watch this video of Leisl being interviewed by Carol George of Destiny Romance, where she talks about Killing Me Softly and how she came to write it.


This giveaway has now closed. Congratulations to Paula who has won a Kindle ebook copy of Killing Me Softly. Thanks to everyone who took part. Hope to see you again soon!

0 thoughts on “FRIDAY FEAST with Leisl Leighton

  1. Pingback: Guest Blog on Friday Feast – chance to win a copy of Killing Me Softly

  2. AvatarFiona McArthur

    I’m not a cook but you almost tempt me with your fab soup post, Leisl. Aromas wafting all the way to mid north coast, I think. Congrats on your great book, too
    xx Fi

    1. AvatarLeisl Leighton

      Thanks Fiona. I’m actually going up to the snow tomorrow and so my house has been full of good, soupy smells while I cook to take hearty, warming food up with us. I’m making myself hungry just writing about it.

      1. AvatarCathryn Hein

        Snow and soup! Now that’s what you’d call a perfect combination.

        Although perhaps not soupy weather up your way, Fiona? The weather in Sydney is glorious at the moment so I’m guessing it’s even lovely up north.

  3. AvatarPaula Beavan

    As I am reading this post about soup the wind is blowing the grass out of the ground & it’s about 10c. I was thinking mm minestrone yum! I’ll have to find a recipe. Then I read on and there was the recipe! Well that’s me off minestrone here I come. My favourite soup is beef & veg, but my husband doesn’t do soup, so I thicken it with gravy & call it stew.

      1. AvatarCathryn Hein

        Sounds like you need some cockle-warming soup, Paula!!

        That’s so uncanny about your husband. I have a friend whose hubby is exactly the same. Won’t eat soup but will happily scoff her “stews”. Ahh, men. They’re funny things, bless ’em.

  4. Avatarbrendat59

    This book sounds wonderful….the soups sound wonderful too! My most favourite soup EVER is pumpkin soup!! To die for 😉 Thanks for the opportunity to win this title, and to enjoy the thoughts of soup..might just have to indulge 😉

      1. AvatarCathryn Hein

        Nothing wrong with a good old steamy bowl of pumpkin soup, Brenda. It’s lovely stuff!

        Had an interesting version of one in WA last week too – Thai pumpkin soup. Sweet and spicy and perfect after our round of golf.

  5. Avatarchristinestinson

    Yum. There’s nothing better than soup and a good book on a cold day, with a glass of wine to finish. Thanks for another really enjoyable – and hunger inducing – post, Cathryn and Leisl.

  6. AvatarLouise Reynolds

    Mmmm, I’m also a soup lover – all kinds. Have to admit a preference for clear chicken broths. I boil up some elderly chooks, a bunch of necks and wings with all the aromatics. Strain through muslin so I have a pretty clear, golden broth. Into the freezer and from there I can go in a lot of different directions – chinese (dumplings/shiitake/spring onions) or Italian (ditalini, wilted spinach etc). You get the drift 🙂
    Congratulations on the release of “Killing Me Softly”, Leisl. No need to put me in the draw as I’ve already got it.

    1. AvatarLeisl Leighton

      I know what a great cook you are, Louise, so I’m sitting here imagining just how good those soups would be. Enjoy my book too, when it tops your TBR pile.

      1. AvatarCathryn Hein

        That’s such a great idea, Louise. Nothing beats home made stock and as you say, it’s so versatile.

        I bet your soups are delish too. I enjoyed the “soupy” series on your blog a lot. Mouthwatering!

  7. AvatarSophie Grant

    How poetic that you talk about soup. Hubby has just had his wisdom teeth out, so yesterday I made Pumpkin, Potato & Leek, Broccoli and Cauliflower soups for him, rather exhausting! Only Broccoli soup left, it scares the kids too much, but it’s really yummy.
    I grew up in the NSW snow fields and have to admit my mum never made soup, I live in SE Qld now and make it all the time! Gotta love me some Kumera soup with garlic and curry.
    Your book sounds intriguing, will have to download it if I don’t win!

    1. AvatarLeisl Leighton

      Hi Sophie. I love broccoli soup – you’ve got one lucky hubby (apart from the pain of the wisdom teeth out!) I hope you enjoy my book and wish you luck in the comp.

      1. AvatarCathryn Hein

        Poor hubby with his wisdom teeth. Having been through that myself I know what he’s suffering and it’s not fun. Good thing he has you on hand, Sophie, to spoil him with soup! Potato and leek is beautiful, as is cauliflower, but I can very well imagine the broccoli soup scaring the kids!

  8. AvatarS E Gilchrist (@SEGilchrist1)

    Fabulous post ladies. Leisl I love the sound of your book & its on my tbr pile. I’m also a bit of a soup fan and make a great green pea and bacon hock soup. Winter is the perfect time for soup which usually includes garlic bread. I’ll be adding your minestrone soup recipe to my meager recipe book. All the best with your release & I wish you awesome sales.

    1. AvatarLeisl Leighton

      Thanks SE. I think that’s a wish all authors have. I hear yours are going really well too – they’re next on my list of books to buy (I’ve just spent my budget this month already – too many good books to buy!) I love pea and ham soup but I don’t get to eat it often because my hubby and boys don’t. Enjoy the recipe and enjoy Killing Me Softly and thanks for being here.

      1. AvatarCathryn Hein

        Oh, oh, oh, I LOVE pea and bacon hock soup, SE!!! And you’ve just reminded me that I didn’t make a single pot of it this winter. How remiss. Not sure I’ll get to it this winter. It’s stunning outside right now and definitely not pea and ham soup weather. Summer’s on it’s way…. I hope!

  9. AvatarJuanita Kees

    Hurrah!! Another romantic suspense author to add to my TBR list! I’ll pass that minestrone recipe onto my Soupmeister better half. I do love a nice big bowl of what hubby calls ‘tsook’ – a thick porridge-like soup made with chicken, shitoku mushrooms and rice. Great for when you’re feeling ‘under the weather’.

    1. AvatarLeisl Leighton

      That sounds yummy, Juanita. I’d love to have a Soupmeister – how do you organise one of those? 🙂
      What is it about chicken soup that makes it like penicilin? Enjoy your soup and enjoy my book – good luck in the comp.

    1. AvatarCathryn Hein

      Cheesy cauliflower soup, Rach? Oh!! I’d adore that but, annoyingly, my other half loathes cauli. I did sneak-feed him some cauli and leek last year with only minor muttering though. There may be hope!

  10. Avatarhelensibbritt

    Hi Leisl and Cathryn

    Firstly I have to say congrats on the book Leisl I have read this one and loved it thanks for a great story 🙂 and secondly thanks for the receipe Cathryn I too love winter and my warming soups

    Have Fun

    1. AvatarLeisl Leighton

      Thanks Helen. That’s so lovely of you to say. I’m so glad you enjoyed it. And enjoy the soup too. I’m up at the snow right now and am looking forward to enjoying the batch I made last week tomorrow night.

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