The past couple of weeks have been a little rough. Or a lot, depending on how you look at it. I’m preparing to leave my beloved Chicago and start a new life with Doug in Cincinnati, and what I thought was going to be an easy task turned out to be very a difficult one—apparently it’s really hard to find a suitable place to rent in Cincinnati! And when we finally found two that we wanted, one seller decided to pull his place off the market altogether because he was freaked out about having to move out by October 1st (yeah, what?), and the other one gave the place he told us we could have to someone who offered a $1,000 pet deposit. Well, the saying is true: Money talks. Doug and I were both pretty heartbroken, as the historic home of our (well, mine) dreams in the Mansion Hill/Newport district fell through our fingers. *Sigh*
With Doug in Chicago and the rest of my family in Michigan, I poured my sorrows into jams and jellies and wedding planning at my parent’s home in Kentucky. I ordered in pizza and canned jam until midnight, trying to boil away my frustration. If there’s one good thing that came out of it, it’s that I’ve definitely taken a big step forward toward becoming a jelly-making master.
Over the weekend I made six batches of jam, and I made two more the weekend before, so I’m getting close to having 50 jars in 5 flavors: Blackberry Jelly, Blueberry-Citrus Jam, Peach Jam, Strawberry-Lemon Marmalade, and Black Raspberry Pluot Jelly (made from a Black Raspberry Pluot, not black raspberries and pluots). My wedding favor stock is piling up!
(Yes, I’m that crazy girl who’s making and canning her wedding favors.)
The point of all this is: when the going gets tough, we often turn to food to make us feel better. And since food isn’t as great for our waistlines as it is for our souls (I’ve been trying to keep this in mind with wedding coming up—10 lb to go!), it’s always nice to have a healthy comfort food to turn to in our time of need.
With fall—my favorite season—just around the corner, I’ve been dying to start making soups again, and this Fennel and Zucchini Soup with Warm Tomato Relish fit the bill perfectly for late summer produce. A snap to make, this unique vegetable soup ends up being creamy without the use of any cream whatsoever. The fennel, onions and zucchini melt into each other when they’re pureed, the anise flavor of the fennel mellowing and the onions adding sweetness. The tomatoes and fresh fennel fronds are not only vibrant and colorful, they also give the soup—and your palate—a nice tart zing.
Fennel and Zucchini Soup with Warm Tomato Relish
This delicious creamy-without-cream soup appeared in the April 2011 issue of Bon Appetit. I used a stick blender instead of a full-size one. If you’re persistent you can get this soup smooth as silk. Serves 4. Calories: 117; Fat: 7.6 g; Fiber: 2.9 g.
2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil, divided
2 c. diced fresh fennel (from 1 large bulb), fronds chopped and reserved
1 c. trimmed diced zucchini
1 c. chopped onion
¼ tsp. fennel seeds
2 c. low-salt chicken broth
¾ c. grape tomatoes, quartered
Heat 1½ 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 ½ 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.