Saturday, June 9, 2012

Tomato & Fennel Soup with Cannellini Beans

I know, I know.  Soup isn't generally something one eats when it's 92 and humid outside.  But for me, the issue isn't so much the temperature outdoors as it is the temperature indoors.

More specifically, the temperature indoors in my office.  

For whatever reason, buildings throughout the DC area have decided to compensate for decades without summertime temperature control (my mom tells me that before the days of widespread A/C, Washington was considered a hardship post in the foreign service) by blasting the A/C at obscene levels.  

The following scene happens to me at least a billion times each summer: After walking down the block in temperatures described by the local weatherman as "akin to standing in a blast furnace," I'll walk into a building where the temperature seems to be set on the "winter in Antarctica" setting.  
Within seconds, I have goosebumps.  Within minutes, my teeth are chattering.  Soon my nailbeds and lips turn blue.  I look around, expecting to see penguins migrating past the receptionist's desk -- or, if we're looking at a kinder, gentler type of frigid conditions, at least some Inuit folks chillin' in the cafeteria.  Alas, there are none.

After encountering this motif often during my first summer here, I started schlepping a thick cardigan sweater with me everywhere, just so that I don't die of exposure.  

Indoors.  During summer.

So, knowing that the temperature outside is predicted to go soaring this week, I know I'm going to need something warm to help me survive the icebox at work. I've also had fennel on the brain, since I recently discovered it and am fairly certain that it's fucking magical. 
With all that in mind, I decided to whip up an Italian-inspired tomato soup with cannellini beans as well as sauteed fennel, onion, and garlic.  As luck would have it, it was delicious -- and it helped fend off the hypothermia, which I definitely appreciated.
Tomato and Fennel Soup with Cannellini Beans
Makes two servings of soup

1 fennel bulb
1/2 white onion
3 cloves of garlic
1 16 oz. carton Imagine Organics Creamy Tomato Soup (it's GF and, as far as I could tell from the ingredient list, dairy-free)
1 12 oz. can Eden Organic cannellini beans (I specifically go for Eden Organics due to their commitment to using BPA-free cans)
3 tablespoons grapeseed or olive oil
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
Salt and pepper to taste

Thinly slice the onion and fennel, and saute until caramelized in 2 tablespoons oil.

Once caramelized, remove the onion and fennel mix from heat and place into a bowl.  Finely chop (or mince) the garlic and saute with one tablespoon oil, along with the fennel seeds, until browned and pungent.

Take it off the stove once it's browned (and be careful, because garlic can be a bastard when it burns quickly), and combine it with the bowl of fennel and onion.

Pour the soup into the same (now empty) pot.  Drain the cannellini beans and combine with the soup.  Let it simmer for 10-15 minutes.

Top with the onion, fennel, and garlic saute.  Season with salt and pepper.  Be warm.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

New Product Review: Udi's Millet-Chia Bread and Good Karma Flax Milk

Living on the East Coast, I often feel like I'm living in some sort of career-imposed exile from the land of gluten-free abundance (also known as the West).  So, when new GF products finally mosey on out here, I get really, really, ridiculously excited.

I've been wanting to try Udi's GF Millet-Chia bread for months now.  I saw it on the Udi's website, and I've been all antsy in anticipation of some new GF bread from my Colorado brethren.  (I mean, seriously.  A company with a quintessentially Israeli name, based in Colorado and producing delicious GF goods?  Can we get any more up my alley than that?)
Millet-Chia Bread

Happily, my boy Udi didn't disappoint.  The bread is delicious, and I love how totally millet-y it is -- ok, so "millet-y" isn't a real word, but the point here is that there are millet grains embedded in the bread itself.  If that ain't whole grain, friends, then I don't know what is.  Per the usual with Udi's, it tastes great.

Meanwhile, my mother-in-law emailed me a few weeks ago about a product she'd recently heard about but that hadn't yet arrived in Texas: Good Karma Flax Milk.  I'm always on the lookout for good dairy milk alternatives, and I got pretty stoked when I read about this.  Now, a girl needs her omega 3's, and she also needs her calcium -- and the flax milk delivers plenty of both.  

By some act of God, this stuff has arrived in Virginia before making its way to Texas (color me bewildered), so of course I had to pick some up.  Much like Udi's, it didn't disappoint: I got the vanilla flavor, and it's some tasty stuff.  It's creamy, sweet, and it packs quite the nutritional punch -- 1200 mg of omega 3s and as much calcium as dairy milk per serving.  This, I'd say, is an epic win.

You might be guessing that most of my breakfasts for the past week have involved both the bread and the flax milk.

You'd be guessing right.