Jan 17 2011
Yes, that’s right. Bread in a flower pot. My grandmother gave all the women in the family the most adorable bread-making kit for Christmas: Cheesy Garlic Beer Bread in a Flower Pot from Rabbit Creek. Well, you can imagine I was psyched to try it and damn was it amazing. I mean, absolutely delicious. But it needed a companion. I’d feel like the biggest fatty eating bread (slathered with local butter from South Mountain Creamery) by the fistfuls out of a flowerpot.
The answer was Tomato Fennel Soup adapted from Bon Appetit. The whole thing is broth and vegetable based so it fills you up without adding lots of calories–less room for fistfuls of bread. The original recipe calls for crab but we’re in a post-holiday household budget crunch (aka, we’re poor for awhile) so we used shrimp that we already had in the fridge. To make the soup vegetarian (and for reasons I’ll explain below) you can keep the shrimp to the side and add-in as desired.
Tomato Fennel Soup (with Shrimp)
Adapted from Bon Appetit’s Tomato Fennel and Crab Soup
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 3 1/2 cups chopped onions
- 2 medium fennel bulbs, cored and thinly sliced
- 3 large garlic cloves, minced
- 2 14 1/2-ounce cans diced tomatoes in juice
- 2 cups vegetable broth
- 1 Tbsp butter
- 1/2 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
Heat 1/4 cup oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add onions, fennel slices, and garlic; sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Sauté until onions and fennel are tender, stirring often, about 15 minutes. Add tomatoes with juice and 2 cups broth and bring to boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer until flavors blend and vegetables are very tender, about 15 minutes. In a medium skillet over medium heat, melt the butter then saute the shrimp just until no longer pink. Add to soup, if desired by all, and simmer just until heated through, 3 to 4 minutes. Otherwise, add to individual bowls. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Ok, here’s the deal. This terracotta-born bread was my last glutinous hurrah before embarking on a very strict 3-week diet. I start to feel sluggish and, well, gross after all the holiday eating (um, did you SEE those triple layer brownies? And let’s not mention all the wine…). Last year, I started January by severely restricting my diet to get my eating habits back on track and get my body recalibrated back to craving fruits instead of sugar. I based the diet on the Wellness Cleanse (for the record, the WC is not really a “cleanse” because the body cleanses itself–this is just putting less crap into your body in the first place) removing sugar, alcohol, animal products, caffeine and gluten from my diet. Basically, I’m eating like a vegan, tee-totaling diabetic with celiac disease that’s avoiding caffeine. It’s hell the first few days then I feel awesome.
This is where the soup comes into play. I made this the weekend before I started the diet so I could say goodbye to gluten with a big fat hunk of bread then, have it again for lunch ON the diet. The soup, without the shrimp, fits all those criteria. See? It’s not as hard as you thought.
The soup is delicious. Greg liked this SO much better than the butternut squash soup and it is really very filling. The fennel is surprisingly subtle but it makes the soup a hundred times better than if it were just tomato and onion.
Incidentally, Greg came upstairs to find that the bread was so fragrant and delicious, the dog couldn’t help himself. My husband didn’t care when the dog had an accident in the house or that he MAY have chewed up a window sill but damn if he wasn’t fuming (and maybe a little heartbroken) when he found out the rest of the bread had been eaten/slobbered on by his beloved buddy.
Eh, didn’t bother me. I couldn’t eat it anyway
P.S. This is another soup recipe that I’m sending to Branny for her Charity Souper Bowl (even though the Ravens were ROBBED of being in the actual big game–don’t get me started). Since this post was about pets behaving badly this one is dedicated to our best behaved pet, Daisy. We got Daisy from a friend who was moving to Hawaii and couldn’t take her. She is a cuddlebug and makes friends with every visitor. She likes to watch football and the Golden Girls (no, seriously) and she will fetch and have conversations with you if you meow at her.
And now I’ve admitted on the internet that I meow at my cat to have conversations. I do have friends in real life, I promise.