Soup it is


Where do I start? Isn't it amazing how a few vegetables and bones can create a soothing, oozing, nourishing miracle that warms your heart?

It has taken me quite some time to wrap my mind around soup, but now I have come to understand that it takes relatively little time to prepare, that it can feed many, is wholesome, is a perfect way of cleaning out your fridge, and leaves your house smelling like a home.

So here is one of my favourite soups. Gobbled by small children and adults alike, it prompted my neighbour to ask for a pot to take home a few weeks ago, as she picked up her munchkins.

Cream of fennel soup

Finely chop 1 garlic clove and 2 medium onions.

Melt 50 g of butter and gently cook the garlic and onions in a covered saucepan. Make sure that the mixture does not catch or colour.

Take 2 heads of fennel (approx. half a kilo) and slice them finely.
Add to the garlic and onions, and cook gently for about 30 minutes.

Now, if you are addicted to roast chicken like we are, you will have some home-made chicken stock available. If not, use any store-bought variant, but be aware that there are considerable differences. My alternative is an organic cube stock which I buy at my local supermarket.
You need just another one litre of light chicken stock. Add it to the fennel.

Then take the finely grated rind (buy a Microplane, you won't regret it, really!) of half an orange and add that too the mixture.

Cover, bring to the boil, and then reduce the heat. Let simmer gently for about 30 minutes, until the fennel is tender again.

Let cool, or if you are impatient like myself, put on oven gloves and an apron and pour everything in your Magimix or other kitchen contraption. Alternatively you can simply puree it with a hand mixer (you might need goggles though). Season to taste with pepper and salt, although I usually think that it's fine as is.

Before serving, stir in about half a pot of single or double cream (depending on whether you believe in a good dose of artery-clogging delight or not).

If you intend to store the soup for later consumption, then do not add the cream until you have reheated it and are about to serve it.

Enjoy. We sure did. In fact, we enjoyed it that much that I never was able to take a photo. So I leave you with a photo of the tree that's been on my mind for the last week.

What a soup...


Apologies but I've been busy and frankly, when I read other blogs, I felt that my own efforts paled somewhat in comparison. But on to the reason why...

The past 1.5 months have been strange, as our little family had to readjust to a full working rhythm again, with my SO working full-time again, travelling again, and being flat out tired. The recession is taking its toll on family and friends worldwide, and here in Belgium, the first signs are being felt. I am still working, at a good pace, but I have to say that the uncertainty of it all weighs down my heart and makes me downright anxious at times. Some people believe that we haven't seen the worst of it yet; others say that this will be worse than the 1930s depression. Yet others seem to think that all will be fine.

At this point, I don't really know what to think, so I am basically doing what I do best. Pretending that nothing is happening and going about my affairs as usual. Which is why I haven't really blogged, as there was nothing to tell. Why should I bore you with such banalities as the fact
  • that I was extraordinarily moved by a large gnarly oak in the park this afternoon;
  • that I marvel at the words and explanations uttered by my four-year old whose personality is developing at a hallucinating pace;
  • the fact that head lice still thrive in this day and age and nobody seems to have found a way of eradicating them (not in this household thankfully, or you would have had an angry post about excessive loads of laundry and the stench of tea tree oil instead);
  • that water from a Brita filter tastes vastly better than tap water but not as good as Evian;
  • that soup can be so nourishing and that I have been feeding friends and neighbours with it over the past weeks and that they have come back begging for more;
  • that children can forge allegiances and break them in a nanosecond;
  • that my munchkin can watch a play about saying goodbye and death, and turn to me, after the grandmother dies, and say "but who will kiss her awake, mummy";
  • that pink sparkling wine can be such fun to drink;
  • that my mother is travelling to Kenia on her own next month and I am worried;
  • that people can be so accepting of our little family;
  • that I can actually get a whole PTA to move their asses and restructure themselves in less than one week;
... and the list goes on...

But as you can see, all very boring stuff.

Just pondering whether I should leave you with a soup recipe.

But no, that too would be utterly banal.

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