Roasted Red Pepper, Fennel and Tomato Soup

Roasted Red Pepper, Fennel and Tomato Soup 

The recipe for roasted red pepper, fennel and tomato soup in The Soup Book is by Roopa Gulati so expect spice. The ingredients include fennel, a red onion, red peppers, tomatoes, garlic, rosemary leaves, fennel seeds, nigella seeds (I substituted cumin seeds for nigella seeds), passata, vegetable stock and a red chilli. I didn't have some of the ingredients so I called down to Young Stephen's greengrocery. As soon as he saw me he said, "I've got something for you.!"
"Chervil?" I guessed.
"No," he replied, "I can't find chervil. It's this - summer savory." There was no way he could have known I'd be calling to his shop today, but he had the savory in a pot ready to go. It wasn't a gift - I had to buy it but did so willingly.

Back to the stove. The fennel, onion, peppers, tomatoes and garlic were sprinkled with sugar, olive oil and the rosemary leaves before being roasted in the oven. The mingling smells were wonderful. The next stage involved cooking the roasted vegetables in the tomato passata and vegetable stock. The vivid colours and textures in the pan were a visual treat! When the ingredients had finished simmering, I had to dash out for a dental appointment (my first in ages). On arriving back home I had to get stuck in to liquidising and sieving. Just as I was finishing that stage, the younger offspring came home from school, damp from being caught in a shower of rain. The two of us had a warming bowl of the soup. It was delicious. I said at the beginning of this entry to expect spice from this Roopa Gulati recipe. I wasn't disappointed. The younger offspring's verdict: "Amazing!" A resounding success.

Bee is for Birthday 

It's my birthday today and if I were a truly fun-loving soul I'd be partying instead of making soup. I suppose there are different ways of partying when you're well and truly middle-aged. My party began with the spouse and younger offspring bringing me breakfast in bed - toast and honey.  One of the spouse's presents to me was Collins Beekeeper's Bible: Bees, Honey, Recipes and Other Home Uses, more of which later.Another branch of the family had sent me some Burt's Bees products.

The two males headed off to work and school respectively, leaving me to potter about and check the first wave of birthday greetings on my social network page. A little later the older offspring arrived home from his sojourn across the water. He looked his usual cheerful self, if a little shellshocked after his 5.30am alarm call. My invitation to partake of home baking lifted his spirits. Then up to the attic with him to locate and wrap his birthday presents to me! One of them - a mezzaluna herb chopper - will come in very handy when I'm preparing soups.

Bee is for Books 

In the course of my reading in the last week I have come across a couple of references to bees and honey. In his book Me Talk Pretty One Day, the American humourist David Sedaris is describing his father's habit of keeping food long after it has passed its best:
For as long as I can remember, my father has saved ... and, most of all, he saves food.  ...He hides these strange things in strange places until they are rotten. And then he eats them. 
I used to think of this as standard Greek behaviour until I realised that ours was the only car in the church parking lot consistently swarmed by bees.
My current read is Dermot Healy's Long Time, No See. In this extract the narrator tells how he is building a dry stone wall:

Sometimes I'd be building walls in my dreams.
Some of the stones I used had come inland in storms. But today I started to haul from an old ruin up on the bank overlooking the sea. ...There were massive stones in her. I could have been demolishing a small church, and sometimes I thought I was.
A beehive hut it might have been.
I'm really pleased with the Beekeeper's Bible. It's the sort of book you can dip into at random. The broad contents are Bees and Beekeeping History, Understanding the Honeybee, Practical Beekeeping, Honey and other Bee Products, and Recipes and Homecrafts. Leafing through the book earlier today I came across a section on bee habitats, which includes notes on plants that attract honeybees. Some suggested for this time of year are acacia, blueberry, borage, hawthorn, lavender, thistle and oil-seed rape. I am reminded that the lavender I planted in the front garden, after a couple of false starts, is beginning to flower. Good news for bees in this part of Dublin. Anyway, I'm sure I'll return frequently to my new bible in the interests of this blog.


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