Only recently I was boasting about my kick-ass immune system. The last time I was sick with the flu or a cold was 2003, the time before that 1998, and the time before that in the early nineties. I wasn't sick for more than a couple of days any of those times.
You know where this is going, don't you? Apparently I tempted the fates. Pride goeth before a fall -- or in this case, pride goeth before the flu.
One minute I'm boasting about my immune system, the next minute I'm fevered and have a tubercular sounding cough and a voice that's so raspy I sound as if I could be Marge Simpson's chain-smoking sister. For the past 10 days I have either had the flu or have been slowly recovering from the flu. My immune system has gone from kick-ass to lame-ass.
The whole thing has left me tired -- I nap constantly -- and spacey. Several days after first coming down with the flu, when I was sure I was over everything, I went to the grocery store and lost my shopping cart. I parked it in an aisle so I could get up to the crowded meat counter without it. Fifteen seconds later I was completely unable to remember which aisle. A good indication that I was not as over everything as I thought.
Today I might actually cook something for the first time since this whole flu business hit. My appetite has been nonexistent in the last ten days but today for the first time I am actually hungry. There are two fennel bulbs waiting in the fridge to be made into this soup which is a recent favorite and seems like a good thing to nudge me back to real food.
Tomato Fennel Soup
adapted from Anthony Bourdain's Les Halles Cookbook
2 fennel bulbs
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 small onion, diced
1 potato, peeled and diced
1 28-oz can plum tomatoes
1 quart chicken broth
2 tablespoons Pernod (optional)
1. Cut the stalks from the fennel bulbs level with the bulbs. Cut the fennel bulb in half from top to bottom, and then each half in half from top to bottom. This will reveal the fennel's core which you should remove. Slice the fennel thinly.
2. Gently sauté the garlic and onions in a couple of tablespoons of olive oil. When the onions are translucent, add the sliced fennel and the potato. Salt lightly. Gently sauté for about 10 more minutes, then add the tomatoes and the broth.
3. Bring to a boil, adjust to a simmer, and continue to simmer for about an hour. Add the Pernod and allow to simmer for a few more minutes.
4. Allow the soup to cool slightly, then puree in the blender in batches. The soup will have a better texture if you then strain it or pass it through a food mill.
5. Reheat soup. Taste for seasoning. Serve.