You know it's fall in Algiers when it starts to rain. All the time. It happened on Wednesday, constant steady rain, letting up briefly and then pouring down in thick sheets. The same for Thursday. And now I sit here Friday, where we had a few hours of brightness in the early morning, before the clouds rolled in and I could hear the pitter patter on the windowsills.
I like the rain. After nearly five months of straight sunshine, the rain seems to tell you that it's okay to stay inside. To read a book or curl up with a cup of good coffee and my laptop. To wear fuzzy socks. (I think fuzzy socks make far more appearances on this blog than one would think necessary for a cooking blog). I'm sure in March I will be cursing the constant rain, but for now it's pleasantly indulgent.
Naturally, we've been making a lot of soups these past two weeks. Simple soups like butternut squash, or red lentil and tomato. I've made this soup a few times now using both turnips and winter squash. Both versions are lovely and very different. Turnips are always, always available here, whereas at the markets the fennel and winter squash seasons are in full swing. The unusual thing about this soup is that I have you dry-roast the vegetables. I figured there's no need to coat the vegetables in oil if they are just going to go in a soup anyway (besides the oil ends up making the soup greasy). Dry-roasting is very simple and brings out the natural sweetness of the vegetables. I leave the skins on the apple which adds a nice color and flavor to the soup, and is healthier that way too!
Fennel, Turnip, and Apple Soup
You can also make a fennel, pumpkin, and apple soup. Simply substitute 1 kilo of peeled, chopped winter squash (pumpkin, butternut, kabocha, etc). Because both turnips and fennel are rather watery vegetables you don't add a lot of extra liquid to the soup.
1/2 of a medium-sized onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, sliced
2 fennel bulbs
3 large turnips (about 1 kilo, 2.2 pounds)
2 large apples
1/4 cup white wine (optional)
1 1/2 cups chicken stock (preferably homemade)
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg (or to taste)
Toppings: creme fraiche, sauteed bacon or pancetta, more nutmeg, or thyme
1. Preheat oven to 425F. Slice the fennel bulbs, peel and chop the turnips, and chop (don't peel) the apples. Line two baking sheets with parchment or silicone baking mats. Scatter the fennel, turnips, and apples on the sheets. Roast the vegetables until lightly browned on the edges. They will be slightly softened but not all the way cooked through. Set aside.
2. Heat a large glug of olive oil over medium heat in a soup pot. Add in the diced onion and saute, stirring occasionally, until the onions are soft and starting to caramelize, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic, allow to soften for about a minute. Deglaze the pan with white wine, stirring to scrape up any brown bits.
3. Add in the chicken stock, the vegetables, and the salt. Bring to a simmer, cover the soup pot and simmer for 30-40 minutes. The liquid should come up just to the sides of the vegetables, it will seem like less liquid than normal, but that's okay. If the pan starts to look dry add a touch of water.
4. Turn off the heat, stir in the nutmeg, and let cool for about 10 minutes. Puree the soup in a blender or with a hand blender. If the soup is very thick you can add some water to thin it. Taste for seasoning. Reheat the soup and serve with any desired toppings.