As I sit at my computer today, the sun has made a strong appearance and is cheekily playing on the lifeless leaves of our many dead plants and trees. The view outside is not too encouraging. After two hard freezes earlier this month and the promise of snow (alas, Mother Nature did not deliver) it’s time to uproot that which could not withstand the extreme temperatures and wind, and replant.
After the loss of a bumper producing Key (Mexican) lime tree – the one that was responsible for the most amazing ‘Lime-cello’ - we have decided that our new lime trees will grow in large pots from now on. Even though it will be a pain to move them come winter, it will be easier than having to start anew. Citrus trees take several years to establish themselves but once they are ready their harvests are truly enjoyable! After finally amazing us with dozens of beautiful lemons hanging like golden ornaments a couple of years ago my Meyer lemon produced only 2 lemons this year. I’m hoping it will recover in time for the next crop.
I was fortunate not to have to leave home while temperatures in the twenties brought freezing rain and caused no less than 750 traffic accidents during a 15-hour period alone! There was much whining down south and much teasing from our hardier countrymen up north! Say what you will, but our cars and homes are equipped to handle extreme heat and not the ice and freeze, and the memory of Husbie watching TV with his ski cap on always produces a chuckle!
This Root Vegetable Soup first introduced on New Year’s Day made a heartwarming reprise. Each root vegetable has a distinctive flavor that is not lost in the simple broth. It’s not too late to make it this winter.
From left to right: rutabaga, carrots, fennel, red jalapeno peppers, garlic and parsnips
Root Vegetable Soup
2 tablespoons olive oil
½ onion, diced
1 small fennel bulb, trimmed at the bottom and sliced, including tops (save some leaves for decoration)
½ red bell pepper or 2 red jalapeno peppers, halved lengthwise and then sliced
1 clove garlic, smashed, peeled and sliced
1 small rutabaga, peeled and diced in ¾ inch pieces
1 carrot, peeled and sliced into ½ inch discs
1 parsnip, peeled and sliced into ½ inch discs
6 black whole peppercorns
5 - 6 cups chicken broth, preferably homemade
salt, to taste
1 chicken bouillon cube, optional
1 scallion, sliced on the diagonal
sprinkle of red pepper flakes for some heat, optional
Heat olive oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add chopped onion and sauté, stirring occasionally, until soft and beginning to brown, about 5 minutes.
Add fennel, red peppers and garlic. Sauté for 1 minute, stirring constantly so that the garlic doesn’t burn.
Add rutabaga, carrot, parsnip and peppercorns to the pot. Cover with chicken broth and cook until vegetables are just tender. Season with salt and chicken bouillon, if desired.
Serve hot with sliced scallion, red pepper flakes and fennel fronds.