It’s been quiet around here, but I assure you, it’s not because Maya and I have lost interest in food. If anything, I’ve had a little too much food these days. The evidence of the overeating is in the angle of my chin. Rather than an elegant sharp angle (similar to that of Kate Middleton) the angle is almost non-existent (think Marge Simpson). But you didn’t come here to read about my chin(s). You came to read about my plan to change them.
Here’s my plan: drink less, cook (some of) my own food and continue deluding myself that gardening is “exercise.” Luckily, Ohio produce has come just in time for this minor mental chin catastrophe thing; all I needed was an evening away from the wiles of DeepWood, Spagio or Latitude 41 to cook the produce. Last night, I moved forward on my plan and remembered what it was like to stand in my kitchen, chopping vegetables and listening to All Things Considered. This simple joy doubles as an anxiety-reducing activity. And if chopping fennel proves to be as successful a chin-reducing activity, I may consider a lifestyle change.
Due to the cold and rainy weather steamrolling any hopes for a pleasant spring day, I had no other choice but to make soup. Fennel, onion, squash, chicken broth and a little butter (I know, I know) were the core ingredients to my pleasant meal. Paired with a side of roasted (Ohio!) asparagus with The Olive Orchard’s Lemon Olive Oil (which, by the way, is perfect for roasting vegetables, but a little too strong for dressings; their non-flavored oils are better for this, I think) and countless pan-fried (Ohio!) morels, the dinner was awesome. As far as every day eating goes, the soup was the winner of the produce-based trifecta. The soup—creamy without any cream—presented the flavors of spring in a rich yet good-for-you way.
The rest of the evening, I cleaned the dishes, then sat on my butt reading and watching back episodes of The Daily Show, with the grace, poise and chin of a royal princess.
Fennel and Zucchini (or Squash) Soup
Bon Appétit, April 2011
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided (I used butter.)
2 cups diced fresh fennel (from 1 large bulb), fronds chopped and reserved
1 cup trimmed diced zucchini (I used squash.)
1 cup chopped onion
1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds
2 cups low-salt chicken broth
3/4 cup grape tomatoes, quartered (I skipped this part.)
Heat 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil in large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add diced fennel, zucchini, onion, and fennel seeds. Sauté until fennel is translucent, 4 to 5 minutes. Add broth; bring to boil. Cover; reduce heat and simmer until vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes. Puree in blender until smooth; return soup to saucepan. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Meanwhile, heat remaining 1/2 tablespoon olive oil in medium skillet over medium heat. Add tomatoes and sauté until just heated through, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Mix in 1 tablespoon chopped fennel fronds; season relish with salt and pepper. Serve soup with relish.