Cook Up Some Sunshine
I like winter. I like snow. I like rain. I even like gray skies. But after a few overcast days, I could use a lift. This recipe is the perfect pick-me-up with its bright flavors and hearty ingredients. Best of all, it’s very easy. Enjoy.
Note: Fresh fennel is probably my favorite vegetable in the whole world. It’s delicious, crisp, and perfect with lemon. Try it, even if you’re scared.
The Seasoned Cynic’s Sunshine Soup
2 yellow onions, peeled and diced
2 cups celery, diced
1 lb. bag baby carrots, diced
1 bulb fennel, fronds and bottom trimmed off, diced
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. soy sauce
Salt and black pepper, to taste
Zest of 3 lemons
1 (13.5) oz. can petite diced tomatoes
1 tbsp. garlic powder
2 quarts chicken stock (I love Kitchen Basics in the yellow box.)
1/2 bag frozen cheese tortellini
About 1/4 cup basil pesto
• Sauté the onions in the olive oil with the soy sauce and a pinch of salt over medium-high heat until softened. Toss in the carrots, celery, fennel, and the zest of 1 lemon, then cook until softened, about 10 minutes, stirring frequently.
• Stir in the tomatoes and garlic powder. Cook, stirring regularly, until the liquid reduces and stops bubbling. Then pour in the stock, a pinch of salt, a few cracks of black pepper, and the zest of a second lemon. Stir well. Bring your soup to a boil, then lower the heat to a simmer. Stir occasionally and allow to bubble away until the vegetables are tender to your liking.
• Add the tortellini, pesto, and zest of the third lemon. Allow to cook for a couple of minutes, then turn off the heat. Taste your soup and adjust salt, pepper, and/or pesto as you see fit. Serve immediately. Enjoy!
If you taste your soup and think it needs an extra pop of flavor, try stirring in a tablespoon or two of balsamic vinegar. It will bring lovely color and a bright acidity to the table.
Try to make all the veggies the same size so they all take the same amount of time to cook.
Feel free to add some meatballs or cubes of chicken for some extra hearty goodness.
Madeleine Dee is a Louisville-based chef, writer, blogger, photographer, world traveler, and filmmaker. She crafts the Fond Originals product line and creates a cooking show web series called Easy Elegance. Follow her adventures on IG: @TheSeasonedCynic or here.