We woke up this morning to the pitter patter of little feet. There’s not much that makes this morning different than most – kids rustle us out of sleep, the dog greets us with big wags of her tail like she hasn’t seen us in years, and the hubby and I both crack an eye at each other and smile – almost daring the other to try and go back to sleep with all the ruckus that is our happy lives.
But this morning was Easter morning and we had plans. Not big plans, mind you, as we are only still newbies in the kiddo Easter celebrations, but one of us stayed up late filling plastic easter eggs and the other one made sure that the chocolate eggs were all taste-tested before the big event. No disappointed kiddos in our future…hopefully!
Today held many surprises and some pretty predictable moments. Whitney was the first to spot the Easter baskets on their places at the table – Avery taking a few minutes to process what was really happening before exploding into giggles and smiles and digging straight into his basket. Our normal breakfast routine was thrown out the window and replaced with chocolate bunnies and eggs – followed by an egg hunt in the backyard in our pajamas.
The pajama egg hunt was a riot – Avery telling us that the eggs were making him “so happy” and Whitney squealing each time she saw an egg but not really understanding what to do with the egg when she did find it. Avery also told me many time today that “I don’t like chocolate” and when I looked at this child – the child grown of my own body, the child that has been with me from day one, and I wondered what the heck happened – the hubby was more than happy to point out that Avery was his son (good boy!) and smiled at me the rest of the day while I ate everyone’s chocolate just out of spite. Well, not Whitney’s chocolate – she’s definitely her mama’s girl – picking a peanut butter filled chocolate egg as her breakfast, brunch, AND lunch of choice. (good girl!)
Later the rain came – washing away all the sunshine and warmth from the morning so we wrapped up in rain boots and coats and jumped in puddles and looked for earthworms until we were too cold to move another inch. The spring weather is always a surprise but this year has been so rainy and cold we look for the outdoor moments when we can – hence the early morning PJ Easter egg hunt.
Family brunch followed the rainy jumps and what was first intended as a cold soup for the Easter celebration turned into a warm one – a simple white bean soup with shaved fennel and celery leaf salad. I was trying to make something lighter and fresher to go with our roasted leg of lamb and hearty vegetables and it was perfect.
This creamy bean soup is hearty enough for cold spring days and will be the perfect light meal for those warmer days, if they ever decide to show their sunny faces again. You can top this soup with all kinds of yummy things – roasted salmon, grilled shrimp, a dollop of olive tapenade or even a scoop of vegan yogurt and a sprinkle of crunchy sea salt. But today I whipped up a little salad for the top of the soup from things we had in the fridge – thinly sliced sweet fennel, the bitter leaves from the tops of our celery bunch, some chopped fennel fronds, a good glug of extra virgin olive oil and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice – it was the perfect addition.
I hope each of you had a lovely Easter weekend – hopefully it’s sunny in your neck of the woods!
white bean soup with fennel and celery leaf salad
makes four to six servings
1 cup chopped white onion
3 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
extra virgin olive oil
1 pound dried white beans, rinsed and soaked over night
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried oregano
8 cups vegetable stock or water
1 fennel bulb
1 bunch of celery, with leaves
make the soup:
In a large pot over medium high heat, add the onion, garlic and a good glug of olive oil. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about five minutes or until the onion is translucent.
Drain the water from the beans and add them to the pot with the bay leaves, thyme, oregano and vegetable stock. Turn the heat up to high and bring the mixture to a boil, then turn the heat down and simmer the beans until tender – about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
Remove the beans from the heat and season with a big pinch of salt and black pepper. Working in batches, carefully ladle the beans into a food processor or blender and blend until pureed. If you are serving the soup warm, return them to the pot and simmer over low heat. If you are serving the soup cold, place the puree into the refrigerator to chill completely – at least 4 hours, or overnight.
make the salad:
Using a sharp knife, cut the fronds off of the fennel and slice the bulb in half, lengthwise. Place one of the cut sides onto a mandolin and carefully shave the fennel into thin slices (alternately, use your sharp knife to slice the fennel as thinly as possible.) Place the sliced fennel into a bowl.
Pick about 3 tablespoons of fronds off of the fennel bulb and give them a rough chop with your knife. Add the fronds to the fennel bowl.
Wash the celery and remove the leaves from the stalk. Place the leaves into the bowl with the fennel. Squeeze a bit of lemon juice over the fennel mixture and toss to combine. Add a nice glug of olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper to the fennel mixture and toss to combine.
Ladle the soup into bowls and top with a nice handful of the fennel salad and a good glug of olive oil. Serve immediately.