Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Fennel Blossom Soup, Teeny Tiny Fennel Bulbs

I made fennel blossom soup from The Herbal Kitchen (and- how awesome is it that Jerry Traunfeld will be opening a restaurant in Seattle, however sad you may be that he'll be leaving the Herbfarm?). It was mild and enjoyable- I added Walla Walla sweet onions to the recipe-suggested leek since I had some that I'd bought (on impulse, of course). The soup was a pleasant, simple soup, with mild but interesting flavors, and it was absurdly easy to make. Just looking at the color, you're not exactly expecting it to be vigorously flavored, and it's not, but... that's not a bad thing. It was really nice for a late supper, which is how we had it (watching Lost, and I am still on the fence as to whether the hobbit dies, but that's another subject). One of the ingredients was fennel pollen, which was super-trendy on restaurant menus a while back, but which I hadn't gotten around to buying and trying. I finally did (now that the trend has come and gone)- and this soup was on my mind as a way to use it- and of course, I couldn't buy just any fennel pollen, I had to buy wild Umbrian fennel pollen. Actually, it was the only kind the store had. But I am a sucker for Umbrian products, unless they're a dessert. Umbrian desserts suck.

Another item on my recent impulse buy list: tiny fennel bulbs. I've seen them in several places, and when I was rushing through the grocery store yesterday (the kids had soccer, I was in a hurry to make it back in enough time both to be there when it got out). So I didn't really think about what I know, already, about fennel bulbs, which is that for the amount that is usually eaten, there's a whole lot of plant that ends up as compost (or, in my case, in the trash). But the teeny tiny bulbs are sort of charming. They give a "maybe it's wild fennel" sort of feeling, almost entirely due to their itsy-bitsiness. The bulb above is pictured with a pot of lipgloss (one of my faves- Nars Butterfield 8, very versatile even if it's overpriced and the smell is a little peculiar). With all its greenery, it doesn't look so teeny.

Below is a picture of it, trimmed (and blurry). Despite its irrational price, this is not a large pot of lip gloss it's sitting next to. And the lip gloss is bigger than the fennel bulb. Sometimes fennel greens are an integral part of a recipe (potatoes roasted with fennel, arista, pasta con le sarde, blablabla), but often, the bulb is used, and the greens get chucked. And that's not a lotta bulb left to work with. I think the lesson here is for me not to buy the cute itsy bitsy bulbs unless I am actually in as much or more need of the greens as the vegetal portion of the plant. But taking the photograph reminded me of how much I like that lip gloss, so from the world-revolves-around-me perspective, all is not lost.

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