What is it about a snowy day that makes me reach for comfort food? It’s rather funny actually. We’ve had horrendous days this winter, cold and blustery, wind blowing at 50 miles an hour in 20 degree weather and no snow cover – terribly hard on animals and plants, and humans too. And no special yearning for comfort food. And then comes the much awaited much hoped for snow, finally. Finally, since the previous snow storms went either North, South or West of us, leaving us desperately parched, and feeling cursed. All in all, it was not that much, maybe 5 or 6 inches of wet snow. But I am grateful. And let’s face it: I like snow in winter.
And so maybe it’s a little celebration of sorts this need for comfort food? A sign that, after all, things are OK; a time to really appreciate the jars of canned fruit & tomato sauce put up this past summer and fall, the 25 pounds of blueberries that I picked under a relentless sun last July – now frozen (most of them already eaten actually), the frozen bagfuls of raspberries, wineberries & strawberries, the broth in the freezer that I can just reached for and add to my sweating vegetables to make comfort soup… Of course, I appreciate all of this everyday, but on a snowy day, something stirs in the deep of your soul and you rejoice that you were after all not a “cigale” last summer – despite the many temptations (or at least that you were not a “cigale” all the time).
And so for breakfast, spelt waffles with canned peaches, lightly cooked blueberries, a big dollop of yogurt and Pennsylvania maple syrup. And strong coffee. Well, OK spelt may not be your idea of comfort food (it was actually 1 C flour, 3/4 C spelt), but waffles are, aren’t they?
And for lunch a simple puréed soup – all puréed soup are comfort food in my book, especially when they are bright – served with slightly spicy grilled cheese sandwiches (Keith’s bread, of course). Puréed soups are extremely simple to make using either onions and/or leeks (and in this case, since I had it, a piece of fennel bulb), your vegetable of choice – carrots-, and some herbs or spice if desired to round out the flavors. And of course, good chicken broth. That makes a huge difference!
And dinner? the most gooey lasagne you can imagine, with a béchamel sauce and lots of cheese.
And for all of that, all you get is a lousy recipe for Fennel Carrot Soup!
Fennel Carrot Soup
Yields 1 1/2 quart of thick soup (more if thinning)
- 2 T olive oil
- 1 small yellow onion, thinly sliced
- 1/2 small fennel bulb, thinly sliced
- 6 carrots (1bout 3/4 pound), peeled and sliced
- 1 pinch fennel seeds
- 1 quart good quality chicken broth
- salt & pepper to taste (optional)
- optional: hot broth, milk or water for thinning
- In a thick bottom non-reactive small dutch oven, sweat the onion & fennel 15 to 20 minutes: start on medium heat, reduce to low within a few minutes and let the veggies cook until very limp and translucent, stirring occasionally to prevent them from sticking. They should not brown, just “sweat”.
- Add the carrots, increase the heat and cook them for about 5 minutes – stirring occasionally and adding a tad more oil if necessary – until they glisten.
- Add the broth, bring to boil, lower heat, cover and simmer until the carrots are tender – about 20 to 30 minutes.
- Puré in a blender until smooth. This will yield a thick soup as in the picture. Pour back in Dutch oven and keep hot until ready to serve. For a thinner soup – one more suitable perhaps as a first course – add more hot broth, or hot milk or even hot water and mix well.
- Serve with Spicy Thyme Grilled Cheese sandwich