Saturday, August 10, 2013

Celeriac and Fennel soup, served with board games

This morning when I woke up I had two things going through my mind - one, that I had to do something nice for David today to make up for him looking after me this week, and two, the vegetable market report that was playing on the radio station. Someone was talking about a vague recipe for celeriac and fennel soup, so with my wifely conundrum conveniently solved, as soon as I had breakfast (in bed, after snuggling with Tom) we headed off foraging in the local supermarket.

Celeriac is hard to come by here, with our place being in a culinary wasteland regional town. No matter how "in season" things are, the foodstuffs that are stocked are more reminiscent of a fifties plate of meat and three veg than a foodie's daydream. I was reminded of how we used to wrestle for the three bunches of coriander in the fresh produce store in Corryong. Never mind - after I made myself understood to the fruit 'n' veg guy at Woollies ("Oh! You mean CELERY-iac!" he declared. "That's right, cel-AIR-iac," I responded, without a hint of condescension.)

So, tasty but simple ingredients in hand, I headed home, after a pitstop at Toyworld to get some games on a whim for the kids - dominoes for Clare and Snakes And Ladders for Tom.

The children were set up at the table while David and I peeled potatoes (I know I was doing it for a treat for him but I have torn a triceps muscle and my left arm is largely useless) and chopped onion and garlic. Tom played his first game of Snakes And Ladders, and won! while I simmered and blended our creation. The recipe follows.

Gather your ingredients - a celeriac bulb, a nice large fennel bulb, a handful of potatoes (I used red delight and cream delight - they were what were in the cupboard), a large brown onion, a couple of cloves of garlic, some vegetable stock, some peppercorns for grinding and some salt.

Peel and slice all of the vegetables. Slice the onions and garlic finely.

Make up about a litre of vege stock, according to the instructions of the brand you like. I tried Vegeta Delight Vege Stock and I really like it. I always use relatively good quality olive oil.

Because I'm a wannabe food snob I always use freshly crushed pepper, and I prefer the three-coloured peppercorns you can get from the supermarket (so not quite a successful snob). Then I add Murray River salt flakes to be extra wanky.

Heat up the olive oil in a large non-stick pan that you will fit all your soup ingredients in, and saute the onions and garlic until they soften and start to smell wonderful.

Looks pretty darned good already. Add all the chopped up veggies and stir them through until you can smell those lovely aniseed aromas. Careful not to let it get too cooked though - you don't want the vegetables browning and ruining the look of the soup.

Pour the stock over the veggies until the whole lot is just covered.

Let it simmer until the vegetables are all tender - around twenty minutes.

Engage in some family fun while you wait, and ignore Mt Washmore. There will always be time to fold washing, but getting frustrated four year olds to understand that you go up the ladders and down the snakes is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

When the whole lot is tender, blend it with a stick blender or whatever you normally use to reduce your food to mush. Don't worry about sieves and things - this is rustic food, wanky salt aside!

Serve in a pretentiously large bowl, garnished with fennel fronds that are totally only there for the facebook picture and will be removed unceremoniously before eating, accompanied by day-old-pizza-dough bread.