by Renu Chhabra
The essence of pleasure is spontaneity.–Germaine Greer
Spontaneity in the kitchen can be fun sometimes and a challenge at other times. But it does get our creative juices rolling, and pushes us to bring out our best. Often times, with no set plans, and working with what we’ve got produces great results. New recipes are born, and new talents are discovered. That’s the beauty of spontaneity. Who wouldn’t like that?
I am a big believer in spontaneous cooking. Shopping for food with no list, and buying what’s fresh and catches my fancy is what I enjoy. In the kitchen, its mostly about what’s available in the fridge and pantry. This lets me try new combinations of ingredients. Not every attempt is a success; but when it is, its a good feeling.
This soup is the product of spontaneous cooking. A lonely head of fennel floating around in the fridge with no particular direction, and a few forgotten red onions in the pantry were the inspiration for making this recipe. Roasting seemed like a good idea to bring out their flavors. I added some garlic for an additional punch. And then to give some body and creamy texture, I used cannellini beans, instead of cream — a healthy and vegan option. I finished by garnishing with smoked Gouda cheese, but it can be optional for vegans. All the flavors tied well together, and it turned out to be a bowl of comfort — a successful attempt at spontaneity.
Recipe2 large red onions, sliced thick
1 medium head of fennel, sliced thick
2 plus 2 tablespoons of olive oil
salt to taste
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 15-oz can of cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
¼ teaspoon paprika
2-3 tablespoons of fresh parsley, roughly chopped
3 cups water
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar (optional)
Olive oil to drizzle on top
Freshly ground pepper to taste
Smoked Gouda cheese, shredded for garnish (optional)
Fennel fronds or parsley for garnish
- Preheat oven to 400° degrees.
- In a bowl, toss onion, fennel, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and salt. Spread the vegetables on a large baking sheet.
- Roast for 30 -35 minutes or until the vegetables are golden and starting to caramelize. Turn the vegetables halfway. Set asid
- Heat remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a medium pot.
- Add garlic, cannellini beans, and paprika. Stir for a few seconds. Add parsley, roasted vegetables, and water. Bring to a boil and simmer for 10-12 minutes, covered. Let it cool.
- Puree the soup in a blender or food processor until creamy or until you obtain the desired texture.
- Transfer it back to the pot, and add red wine vinegar (optional). It gives a little punch to the sweet red onions and fennel. Adjust salt.
- Serve soup in a bowl and drizzle olive oil on top. Add pepper to taste.
- Top with shredded Gouda cheese to taste. Garnish with fennel fronds or parsley.
- Serve with your favorite bread.
- Spontaneous Cuisine: Parsnip Velouté with Aged Mimolette Cheese
- Savoring Fall: Cumin-Lime Pumpkin Mash
- Spontaneous Cuisine: John Dory, Italian Green Wild Asparagus and Blood Orange Sauce