I was watching Miren play outside when I just knew something was not right with her. Nothing that anyone else would notice – not even C.
Then I felt her forehead and cheeks.
“Apa amatxu, apa” she said. She wanted me to pick her up. Her runny nose finally caught up with her and developed a fever.
So the last few days I have been home taking care of her. Not much of an appetite on her part, but I cooked pots of soups to last for a few days – to give us a sense of comfort.
Mirroring my mother’s cooking habits, I like to cook soup in the morning. I make tea and almost before anyone else is up, I turn on the stove and chop away. My mom always did that – she still does. Some might think that smelling leeks first thing in the morning is not most appetizing, but what can I say, I disagree.
Speaks of winter and comfort.
Miren was lying down watching Caillou while I stirred a pot of fennel, potato, and watercress soup. She smelled the scent of leeks, garlic, and fennel seeds and she called for some. “Amatxu sopa” she said quietly. Her sense of smell was indicating there was something tasty cooking, but the appetite wasn’t quite there.
She took a nap instead.
But her appetite returned a few hours later and joined me at the table for some of the fennel, potato, and watercress soup served with some sauteed Key West pink shrimp. Miren loves shrimp. Loves.
She devoured it, walked over to the sofa, and rested some more.
The next day I made another batch of soup with celeriac, rutabaga, and acorn squash and served with almond and parsley pesto. This one even creamier than the one before. Both simple soups, quick, but nourishing for those days when we are not feeling so well.
Leftovers went in the freezer and we will be having them again soon.
She is still ill and weak – seeking lots of cuddles and love.
So we are staying put for a couple of days.
And as you might have guessed it, there is another pot of soup on the stove. This time Rancho Gordo bean and vegetable stew. Hearty and nourishing.
That is what we need today.
Celeriac, Rutabaga, and Acorn Squash Soup
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium leeks, tough green ends removed and sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 medium carrots, peeled and diced
1 celery stalk, diced
1 medium celeriac, peeled and diced
1 medium rutabaga, peeled and diced
1 medium russet potato, peeled and diced
1 small acorn squash, peeled, seeded, and diced
1 teaspoon ground coriander
2 sprigs fresh thyme leaves
1 quart (1 liter) vegetable broth
1 cup water
Almond and Parsley Pesto
Heat a large pot over medium high heat. Add the olive oil, leeks, garlic, carrots, and celery and cook for 5 minutes until tender, but not browned. Add the celeriac, rutabaga, potato, squash, coriander, and thyme. Cook for another 5 minutes while stirring occasionally. Add the vegetable broth and water. Bring the liquid to a boil, cover the pot, and reduce heat to medium. Cook for 20 minutes.
Puree the soup with a blender. Adjust liquid if needed and season with salt and pepper. Serve with the pesto.
Fennel, Potato, and Watercress Soup
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium leek, sliced
1 medium shallot, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium fennel bulb, diced
1 large russet potato, peeled and diced
1 teaspoon coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground fennel seeds
2 1/2 cups vegetable broth
1 cup watercress
1/2 cup (125 ml) unsweetened coconut milk
8 ounces pink shrimp, peeled and deveined (optional)
Heat a medium pot over medium high heat. Add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, leek, shallot, garlic, and fennel. Cook for 5 minutes until soft but not browned. Add the potato, coriander, and fennel seeds. Stir and cook for another 5 minutes. Add the vegetable broth. Bring liquid to a boil, cover the pot, and reduce heat to medium. Cook for 15 minutes. Add the watercress and cook for another 2 minutes.
Add the coconut milk. Puree the soup and adjust liquid if needed. Season with salt and pepper.
Heat a saute pan over medium high heat. Toss the shrimp in the remaining olive oil. Season the shrimp with salt and pepper. Cook for 1 minute on each side and serve on top of the soup.