I found out that our new house was a done deal when I was at work. In the moment, I was thrilled and hugging basically everyone that entered my line of sight. The sorta stress-y negotiation bit was behind us and whoa! We would have a house soon. When my shift was done, I drove home down all of the empty country roads. I was getting ready for bed when I started feeling choked up and teary eyed. It wasn’t because of barely-containable elation either. I was overwhelmed at the thought that my life would be completely different, that the change in my day-to-day would be so great. Renovation projects would replace weekends away. Savings plans for anticipated future expenses would take precedence over any sort of prolonged travel (and certainly over a new pair of ankle boots). Our new, but seriously very old, home would demand some priority rearrangement.
That overwhelmed feeling washed away soon enough, pretty much right after a cry-fest where I told my mom that I didn’t want to “live like a gross hobo” because our creaky character home was going to bleed us dry. Everyone has assured me that these things take time and that it’s insane to try and tackle everything at once. I’m slowly beginning to accept their advice.
We got the keys last week and I’ve been working on the absolute terror of a garden/yard with my mom every day while the weather’s decent. We’ve made progress on the two years of wild neglect out there. There’s an ex-pond feature buried under piles of rocks, tarp and dirt. Grubs in the grass. Weeds that come up to my neck. Trees and shrubs so out of control. Lots of half-baked plans that need cleaning up and a fresh start. My mom is a serious badass, so we’re getting there.
There was a giant yew in front of one of the dining room windows. The house is starved for natural light and this thing was in ugly shape, so the plan was to take it down–maybe with the help of a professional. There were bees lightly buzzing around this thing when we rolled up to it one morning, so the possibility of a nest forming had entered the picture. So my mom starts trimming it down. The bees are stirring/swarming a bit more. Then she started laying into it with a hacksaw and a THIS ENDS NOW kinda vibe. I’m keeping busy cleaning up the branches when a bee lands right on my hand. Feeling the buzzz and seeing it’s little wing flicks, I yelped and leaped away, waving my hands around.
At this point my mother had sawed the entire thing down, glanced only slightly shamefully at my wussy ass, pointed a finger straight at my face, and said “You need to toughen up.” Real casual with the life lesson there! ;)
This soup is only slightly related to the backbreaking insanity that I just described. It’s cooled off a bit, so the thought of hot soup and a crust of bread after some time spent outdoors is rather appealing. I love fennel with leeks and apples in a salad situation, all sprinkled with toasted + chopped walnuts, so I thought a warm version of that might feel just right. Turmeric is kind of an anti-bad-vibe shield for inflammation of all kinds, so a hefty spoonful of that went in for my achy muscles. It dyes the soup mustard-yellow, which is kind of cheerful in its own special way. I pre-toast the walnuts in the pan, simmer them along with the veg and purée them into the soup itself. Insane toasty walnut flavour comes through with all of the leeks, fennel and lightly sweet apple and makes the whole thing a touch creamier. Kinda awesome.
leek, fennel, apple + walnut soup with turmeric
notes: Have you cooked with turmeric before? Be careful, friends. It dyes any and all things bright, acid yellow–LIKE FOREVER.
2 tbsp grapeseed oil
3 leeks, white + light green parts chopped (discard green tops or use them for stock)
4 sprigs of thyme, leaves minced
1 fennel bulb, cored and chopped (reserve a few fronds for garnish)
1 medium apple, peeled, cored + chopped
1-2 tsp ground turmeric
1/2 cup walnut halves, toasted
salt + pepper
4 cups vegetable stock
fresh black pepper
reserved fennel fronds
more toasty walnuts
Heat the grapeseed oil in a large soup pot over medium. Add the chopped leeks and thyme. Stir and sauté the leeks until they are a bit soft, about 4 minutes. Add the chopped fennel and apples. Stir everything up a bit. Add the turmeric and stir to coat all of the vegetables evenly. Sauté the vegetables until the fennel is starting to soften, another 4 minutes. Add the walnuts and stir them in. Season the whole thing with salt and pepper. Add the vegetable stock and stir.
Bring the pot to a boil and simmer until all of the vegetables/apples are very soft, about 12-15 minutes. Remove the soup from the heat. Carefully blend the mixture in batches until totally smooth. Check the soup for seasoning and adjust accordingly. Bring the puréed soup to a boil and serve hot with drizzles of maple syrup, fresh black pepper, fennel fronds and more toasted walnuts.