I love the read food memoirs. I love that they combine snippets of a person’s/family’s life interspersed with favorite recipes, memories of cooking, and events coinciding with the meals eaten alone or shared. They are essentially two books in one, part cookbook and part biography/novel. The first food memoir of sorts that I remember becoming very attached to (and still am) is Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder, that is not really a memoir but a fictionalized biographical tale of her husband Almanzo Wilder growing up in upstate NY, the son of prosperous dairy farmers/merchants. As I got older, I kept on reading and seeking out food memoirs. Recently, I have picked up some new gems such as Nani Power’s Feed the Hungry and Diana Abu-Jaber’s The Language of Baklava: A Memoir.
Among others, I have become almost obsessed with Amanda Hesser’s (New York Times food editor for column “Recipe Redux” and currently working on a cookbook) Cooking For Mr. Latte. I know, it has a title that has gotten some chuckles (not by me Amanda!), but it chronicles her courtship with her now husband, Tad Friend. I’ll let the title slide, as I too have (and still am) been in love and can excuse that kind of “in love behavior” from couples that other people perpetually want to strangle. In any case, it has lovely recipes from her, her friends, family, and acquaintances. At this point, I know the book backwards and forwards and have my favorite parts that I constantly re-read and others that I skip right through. It’s a book that I frequently pick up when I am at a loss of what to make or when I want to reminisce about my own grandmothers through Amanda’s.
My fridge has been holding a week old fennel bulb (from a pizza) and a little over a pound of carrots . What to make? In paging through Amanda’s book, I was kindly reminded of a fresh sounding soup I’d always wanted to make but never seemed to have carrots and fennel on hand together. The rest of the ingredients are pantry staples that most people usually have on hand. I made a few alterations according to what I had on hand that night and I was rewarded with a fabulous soup that was velvety smooth and easily transferable between the winter and spring seasons. It was even good cold. Enjoy and thank you for your inspiration Amanda!
Carrot and Fennel Soup
2 tblsp extra virgin olive oil
1 medium fennel bulb (cut down to only white bulb) and chopped roughly
11/2 lbs carrots, peeled and thick cut
1 onion, peeled and chopped
2 large garlic cloves, peeled and chopped fine
1 tsp. salt (more to taste if needed)
enough low sodium vegetable stock or water to cover veggies in pot
2 tsp honey
juice of ½ of a lemon
In a heavy pot heat olive oil over medium heat, heat the olive oil. Add fennel and onion and sauté until soft and starting to take on some color. Add the carrots, garlic, salt and pepper and cook for another 5-8 minutes. Cover the veggies with the low sodium vegetable broth or water. Bring to a boil and then lower heat to low. Cover and simmer for about 20-25 minutes, until the carrots can be pierced easily by a fork. Puree the soup in batches with a blender (or use your immersion blender right inside the pot)