Simplicity, Soup and Fennel Seeds: Less is Perfectly More

in steempress •  last month

Some say the most complicated skill is to be simple.

It's easy to get misled by complicated things that suggest we need more - more complicated, exotic, expensive ingredients in our lives and cupboards that, once combined in some magical alchemy, makes perfection.

Emily Dickinson writes of the stone whose simplicity is the key to a happy existance:

How happy is the little stone

That rambles in the road alone,

And doesn’t care about careers,

And exigencies never fears;

Whose coat of elemental brown

A passing universe put on;

And independent as the sun,

Associates or glows alone,

Fulfilling absolute decree

In casual simplicity.

This suggests that rather than being burdened by “care[s]” and “fears,” we should enjoy what we are blessed with, and be contented with what surrounds us.

My father always used to steal fruit from trees out walking. Steal might not be the right word - but imagine you're passing an orchard on a long walk, and there's no one around, and you jump the fence and grab a fresh apple that sends juice flying with every bite. Or there's passionfruits overhanging a fence ripe for the picking. Or maybe a plum just within arm's reach. He would wax lyrical about how you'll NEVER get anything as tasty as fruit picked straight from the tree on a warm day. Ever. I think of that every time I pick an apple from my own trees and bite into it's crunchy sweetness, feeling the warm sunshine on my face. Simple perfection. Less is more.

Simple perfection is also Autumn to me - the way the light changes and catches cobwebs at just the right angle so they catch jewelled drops of dew, rainbows in afternoon showers that come after a hot dry summer, the colours of leaves. Simple, beautiful perfection. Stuff to wax lyrical about.

It's one of the reasons I love to garden. I love the simplicity of walking into the garden and choosing food that you can bring in and make into a simple meal that tastes fresh and uncomplicated. I haven't had to spend a lot of money. I haven't been brainwashed by supermarket advertisements telling me I need this ingredient or that. I'm not following long lists of ingredients in fancy recipe books with embossed covers. I'm just throwing a handful of nourishing things together in a pot or a frying pan and within a short time, voila! A simple, uncomplicated meal.

The other cliche about 'less is more' is that the height of sophistication is often simplicity. Whilst sophistication might mean, by definition, a complex system with hidden meanings and made with great skill, we also know that sophistication often looks simple and elegant - a little black dress, for example, or the clean lines of modernist architecture. And it works for food too - some of the most apparently sophisticated meals - vine ripened tomatoes on sourdough ciabatta with a drizzle of olive oil, torn basil, goats cheese and cracked black pepper are absolutely simple, having their origins in traditions of seasonal availability, local food production, and traditional recipes with less than three ingredients.

If I pick up a loaf of sourdough bread at my supermarket, for example, I can read far more than 3 ingredients (my own bread is flour, water and salt - that's it!). I was taught to read labels and it's a source of endless frustration when my husband brings home something which contains an additive or an ingredient we can't, or shouldn't, eat. He's since learnt, of course, that where food comes from matters - palm oil, for example, can raise an ethical dilemma, or a certain list of numbers is known to be NOT GOOD FOR US.

And so, this is a long winded way to say I made the first soup of the season this year. The weather is getting decidely cooler, and being on holidays, we seem to have even less time to cook, covered in dirt, engine oil or salt water from the various projects and hobbies we're playing with and finding ourselves hungry. Soup is simple - a few on hand ingredients tossed together, and we have a simple, but delightful, lunch - and quite likely dinner, too. To me, it's simple yet amazingly tasty - less is indeed more. Stomachs full, hearts warm, especially in this Victorian Autumnal weather.

It's also been a simple delight to harvest fennel seeds from the garden - the bulbs having given way to long fragrant stalks alive with yellow flowers and bees, and then to delicious seeds which are famous as a digestive (try tea with them!) and give an aniseedy taste which suits the celery well. I've also made this soup WITH fennel bulbs and stalks, which is also amazing.


Celery Soup with Fennel & Sunflower Seeds

6 potatoes
3 spring onions
Last night's leftover roast garlic
Fennel seeds
Sunflower seeds
Butter or vegan alternative
Olive oil

Saute spring onions and celery in olive oil. Add potatoes and water to cover, a sprig of parsley, stock to taste, roast garlic. Simmer until soft.

Meanwhile dry roast a big handful of fennel seeds and sunflower seeds in a pan until fragrant and browned. Add a little salt if you fancy.

When vegetables are done, blend with a generous spoonful or two of butter.

Ladle into bowls and top with seed mix and optionally, extra parsley. I love lots of toppings on simple soups as it adds more nutritional value.

What is your favourite 'simple' meal?

What's your favourite simple, perfect delight?



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That soup sounds amazing! It's so mind bending that you're entering autumn and i am going into spring! It's lovely to connect through your blog today. Keep being totally awesome @riverflows 💗🌅🌻


I know right.... Means we have been here a whole year together too! It's getting cold here... NOT HAPPY.

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Time flies when we're having fun! Ok -- but, how cold? LOL my sister was going home to -35°C and? It's supposed to be spring! Mind you she lives waaaay up north in Yellowknife, NWT. The city main sewer line was froze when she got home 😬. We are sitting at a balmy 10°C these days. What a treat from the harsh cold winter offered in Feburary. Stay warm! Eat lots of soup!! Haha

You are absolutely right, there is something magical about picking fruit unexpectedly. I love to get loquats, which grow all over in my area. They are not something sold commercially, and they are a little odd, but the sensory experience is fabulous in the fresh air.

Fennel has been my stomach's friend for a long time. How nice to have harvested your own.


Hey! Nice to have you stop by! I have a loquat tree but every time it starts to fruit either frost, heat or cockatoos get to it first!!! I planted one as they are great trees when they are big! After 8 years ours is finally overhead height.

It IS lovely harvesting the seeds....

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What an awesome post! :)

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That soup looks amazing! Maybe I will try to grow some fennel this year. I'm sorry your weather is getting cooler. Ours is just warming up.


Fennel is great. I love it raw or roast... so good.

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I joined your Discord. Looks great.

What a beautiful reminisce, I walked the path with you and felt the sun as you munched on your juicy apple... I love reading that which I can imagine and feel!

I must try this soup, I am a "from scratch" girl myself, throwing in whatever is on hand... it sounds delicious!


Ah, from scratch is the best. It's a yum easy soup!

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Oh Yum. "When life feels tough, make soup." My personal motto. My favourite simple food still pumpkin soup with cumin. Or maybe simply hummus with fresh cucumbers. Or just tomatoes, onions and cucumbers a-la Greek style. Or just a plain bowl of olives. Hugs my dear.... Soup heals everything. x

Looks delicious, got this bookmarked for the future 🙂

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I love that I can pick fruit on the land that I live on , and I love soup, being spring for me it is still cool enough to have soup, I loved your recipe. I have lots of wild fennel on the land too.
My favourite simple meal, has to be a salad really, with greens from my garden, beetroot, carrot, apple and sunflower seeds and a dressing made from olive oil made from the land and orange juice from the oranges here and sometimes I add dates too xxx


Oh I love a garden salad! We had one last night and I put the same seed mix on it.. sooo good.

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