Last Friday, my friend Melissa came over for a mellow ladies’ night in. It was a definite change of pace after our first week back at work after the holidays. We made some delicious fennel, tomato and white bean soup with gremolata and crusty bread with fontina melted on top. And for desert, an apple galette! ‘Twas delicious. We had a bottle of wine (though we could have easily drank two) and just listened to music and geeked out.

Recipe for the soup was improvised, and the galette recipe is courtesy of Alice Waters. The dough isn’t sweetened, the apples have no spices on them, and yet, it is so delicious. Something to be said for her simple approach. Recipes after the jump.

Simple Fennel, Tomato and White Bean Soup
Serves 4

1 large fennel bulb, fronds trimmed
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can cannellini beans
4 c. chicken or vegetable stock
olive oil
salt and pepper

Gremolata

handful fresh Italian parsley, minced
zest of 1 lemon
1 clove garlic, finely minced

Slice the fennel thinly. Heat a couple tablespoons of oil over medium heat, in a large heavy pot or dutch oven. Add the fennel and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until the fennel begins to soften and sweat. About 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, cannellini beans, and stock. Let the soup come to a simmer and then cook over low heat with the lid on for 20 minutes, or until the flavors have combined and the fennel is very tender. Taste and season with salt and pepper.

Mix together the gremolata ingredients and serve on top of the soup.

Alice Waters’s Apple Galette

Dough:
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, just softened, cut in 1/2-inch pieces
3 1/2 tablespoons chilled water

Filling:
2 pounds apples (I used Cameo, but pretty much any crisp, tart apple will do), peeled, cored, and sliced
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
5 tablespoons sugar

Mix flour, sugar, and salt in a large bowl; add 2 tablespoons of the butter. Blend in a mixer until dough resembles coarse cornmeal. Add remaining butter; mix until biggest pieces look like large peas.

Dribble in water, stir, then dribble in more, until dough just holds together. Toss with hands, letting it fall through fingers, until it’s ropy with some dry patches. If dry patches predominate, add another tablespoon water. Keep tossing until you can roll dough into a ball. Flatten into a 4-inch-thick disk; refrigerate. After at least 30 minutes, remove; let soften so it’s malleable but still cold. Smooth cracks at edges. On a lightly floured surface, roll into a 14-inch circle about 1/8 inch thick. Dust excess flour from both sides with a dry pastry brush.

Place dough on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Heat oven to 400F. Lay apples on dough in a ring 2 inches from edge. Fold dough over the apples and pleat so it stays. Brush melted butter over apples and onto dough edge. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons sugar over dough edge and the other 3 tablespoons over apples.

Bake in center of oven until apples are soft, with browned edges, and crust has caramelized to a dark golden brown (about 45 minutes), making sure to rotate tart every 15 minutes. Remove tart from oven, and slide off parchment onto cooling rack. Let cool at least 15 minutes. Serve topped with sweetened whipped cream, or with vanilla ice cream.