Pumpkin Chili with Sausage and Black Beans

You Were Always Mine by Nicole Baart is the current stop on the TLC Book Tour.   Let me just say that I saw this review and post as an upcoming chore—something I felt obligated to do.  

I cannot tell you how much I enjoyed and devoured this book.  (Well, I can and will tell you if you keep reading!)

About the Book

 The acclaimed author of Little Broken Things returns with another “race-to-the-finish family drama” (People) about a single mother who becomes embroiled in a mystery that threatens to tear apart what’s left of her family.

Jessica Chamberlain, newly separated and living with her two sons in a small Iowa town, can’t believe that a tragedy in another state could have anything to do with her. But when her phone rings one quiet morning, her world is shattered. As she tries to pick up the pieces and make sense of what went wrong, Jess begins to realize that a tragic death is just the beginning. Soon she is caught in a web of lies and half-truths—and she’s horrified to learn that everything leads back to her seven-year-old adopted son, Gabriel.

Years ago, Gabe’s birth mother requested a closed adoption and Jessica was more than happy to comply. But when her house is broken into and she discovers a clue that suggests her estranged husband was in close contact with Gabe’s biological mother, she vows to uncover the truth at any cost. A harrowing story of tenacious love and heartbreaking betrayal, You Were Always Mine is about the wars we wage to keep the ones we love close, perfect for fans of Liane Moriarty and Jodi Picoult.


About the author

Nicole Baart wants to live in a world filled with handwritten letters, New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, and great conversation.

A critically acclaimed novelist, Nicole’s work has been featured as a Midwest Connections book pick, nominated for a Christy Award, and earned a starred and featured review from Publishers Weekly. In 2011 she co-authored a book that debuted at #4 on the New York Times bestseller list.

Nicole is also the co-founder of a non-profit organization, One Body One Hope, that partners with a sisterhood of churches and orphanages in Monrovia, Liberia. An adoption advocate and the mother of four children from four different countries, Nicole speaks on a variety of topics ranging from orphan care to parenthood to books and the writing process.

Purchase Links

Amazon | Books-A-Million | Barnes & Noble

Connect with Nicole

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

What I thought…

Again, I wasn’t looking forward to racing through this book.  (There was a mix up getting the books out for review, I was out of the state when the book finally arrived, yadda, yadda, yadda.  Thank you Lisa for moving my posting date back to the last possible minute.)  And, I usually don’t go in for the whole family-drama-wrapped-in-a-mystery genre.   It’s ironic though that as soon as I got my hands on the book, I finished it in a twenty-four hour period.

Jessica, the main character, is someone I could relate to.  As a former high school English teacher, I admired her for the delight she found in her students and her subject matter.   I am not a parent, but Baart certainly made Jessica’s pain, suffering, and fear readily apparent.  These characteristics help mold Jessica into a relatable character whether you had walked in her shoes or not.   So, to quote Harper Lee, “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view… until you climb into his skin and walk around in it”  (To Kill a Mockingbird).   (Lee’s novel is a catalystic element in You Were Always Mine.)  I found myself wanting to befriend and protect Jessica and her children.

I am not a big mystery fan, but I did appreciate Baart’s adept story telling.  I had some ideas but I really didn’t see the ending coming until the last few chapters.  And then, I couldn’t believe it.  (Any more explanation and I would have to issue a spoiler alert.)

Jessica is a stoic character with resolve and fortitude.

The Food…

Because this is a family drama, there’s food:  coffee, tea, muffins, blueberry scones, scrambled eggs with cheese, donuts, cinnamon rolls, McDonald’s, chicken nuggets, Big Macs, guacamole, charcuterie board, potato soup, chicken soup, sweet potato chili, potato and sausage soup, pretzel buns, turkey and Swiss, cold brisket sandwiches, Stouffer’s lasagna, pizza, mac ‘n cheese, crackers, bereavement food, apples, Sauvignon Blanc, whiskey neat, hot buttered rum, dirty martinis, Tennessee honey, hot chocolate, buttermilk brownies, pop tarts, cheddar popcorn, Little Debbies, pumpkin pie.

It’s obviously now soup weather and soup comforts the soul, right?  Jessica and her family needed comfort.  If I had been her best friend and next door neighbor, I would have made up a bowl of soup to deliver nightly.  (Hopefully, this recipe is better than the sweet potato chili from the book.)  🙂

Pumpkin Chili with Sourdough Bread on the side

Pumpkin Chili with Black Beans and Sausage


Use any winter squash variety. Butternut works as well.


  • 1 lb. pork sausage, browned and drained
  • 1 T. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cans (14.5 oz.) petite diced tomatoes
  • 2 cans (14.5 oz.) black beans
  • 3 c. roasted pumpkin puree*
  • 1 t. Mexican oregano
  • 1 T. cumin
  • 2 T. chili powder
  • 1 small can green chilis**
  • 1/2 t. fresh ground pepper
  • 2 c. chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 T. apple cider vinegar


  1. In a large soup pot, add olive oil and cook onion until soft. Add garlic and sauté for 1-2 minutes more. (Do not burn.)
  2. Add tomatoes, black beans and squash. Stir in spices. Add chicken broth and stir to combine. Stir in cooked sausage.  Simmer uncovered for 35-40 minutes on low heat.
  3. Before serving, stir in the vinegar.  Season with salt and pepper if needed.

*Roasting winter squash is so easy. Simply cut the squash in half, remove seeds, rub inside with olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and place cut side down on a foil lined rimmed baking sheet. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Depending on the size of the squash, roast for 30 minutes to two hours or until tender.

**I used one of the many small containers of green chiles that I have in my freezer.  I was more or less the same amount as a small can.

Yield: 8-10


This soup is better on the second day.  I made it for our supper and then served it the next day to friends who came over for lunch.   The flavors were more melded and it was a little less spicy (if that’s possible).

Please check out the other stops.

Nicole Baart’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS

Tuesday, October 16th: Palmer’s Page Turners

Wednesday, October 17th: Bewitched Bookworms

Monday, October 22nd: Literary Quicksand

Tuesday, October 23rd: That’s What She Read and @thats_what_she_read

Wednesday, October 24th: @bookpairings

Friday, October 26th: Eliot’s Eats

Monday, October 29th: Amy’s Book-et List

Tuesday, October 30th: Girl Who Reads

Thursday, November 1st: Books and Bindings

Monday, November 5th: Booktimistic and @booktimistic

Wednesday, November 7th: Fiction Aficionado

Thursday, November 8th: Girls in Books and @girlsinbooks

Monday, November 12th: Kritter’s Ramblings

Wednesday, November 14th: @wherethereadergrows

I received an advanced proof of this book  from the publisher and TLC for an honest review.  Any opinions, exclamations, gushings and rants are my own.

I am linking up with Deb’s Souper Sunday (with sandwiches and salads)!

I am also linking up with Foodies Read.




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