The past week or two, I seem to be counting time between bowls of soup. Minutes measured in quick bites between work, events and story scouting. Buying fresh food to cook at home with the best of intentions…and just not enough hours in the day right now to carry them out. As the time before we leave to spend the holidays out of town approaches, these quiet and simple meals – trying to use up what’s left around the house – are really precious to me. Using everything I’ve got lying around while I’m busy using everything I’ve got for all the activity going on.
This soup is a true example of making something out of nothing. Homemade stock, a little sprinkle of tiny pasta – quick comfort in a bowl. The broth is made only of fennel and water cooked for an hour or so on the stove while I was writing last week. Get some water boiling on the stove, throw the stalks and fronds in, and let it do its thing. Cook it a little longer than you think you should, turn it off the heat and let it steep – think of this broth as a tea or tonic for these busy, gray days. ‘To make it heartier – and to clear one or two more things from the pantry & fridge – I added some small pasta and thinly sliced fennel at the end. Include a piece of dense bread and its the perfect fortifying meal. I need not say that if you don’t like fennel, this isn’t for you…but if you’re a fan, the light but pronounced fennel flavor will make you sigh contently.
Simple Fennel Soup – serves 4
– In a large stock pot, bring the water to a boil. Add your rough chopped fennel stalks and fronds. Cook for 15 minutes at a medium boil. Turn down heat to low, cover and simmer for another 45 minutes to an hour – you’re looking for a light greenish tint stock. Remove from heat, keeping the pot covered, and allow to steep for another 30 minutes.
– To serve, bring broth back to a boil and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Add pasta and cooked until al dente (follow your packaging instructions – this should be in the 7-8 minute range). Stir in thinly sliced fennel and cook for another minute or two. Portion into bowls, sprinkle with reserved fennel fronds. Serve immediately.