Fresh Fennel Soup
Fresh fennel bulb (Foeniculum vulgare) is a taste treat raw or cooked; it is wonderful raw sliced along with other veggies on the crudites platter or in salads like Lemony Rice Salad and Carpaccio. It cooks to a lovely succulence and adds its delicate but definite taste to any dish you add it to; Risotto and Autumn Gratin benefit from the fabulous fresh fennel touch.
Here is a fresh and simple soup that is very quick to prepare; although very light, it is quite tasty and richly flavorful. It is an adaptation of Art Smith's recipe. I add the fennel broth for a more pronounced, sweet fennel flavor; you may substitute fresh water or vegetable broth instead.
1 Tbsp Fennel seeds, lightly crushed
1 tsp Whole Black Peppercorns
2 cups fresh Water
1 Leek or small onion, chopped
1 rib Celery with leaves, chopped
2 tsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 pinch Asafetida
1/4 tsp Turmeric
1 Pinch Ground Red Pepper (cayenne)
1 large bulb Fresh Fennel, chopped
3-4 Ripe Roma Tomatoes, chopped
Sea Salt and Freshly ground Black Pepper
3-4 Tbsp Fennel Fronds
3-4 Tbsp Fresh Basil
3-4 Tbsp Fresh Parsley
2 Tbsp Plain Yogurt, Creme Fraiche or Sour Cream for garnish (optional)
Feathery Fennel leaf fronds, for garnish
Combine fennel seeds, peppercorns, and a pinch of salt with the water in a pan; bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. You may add clean trimmings from the celery, onion, and fennel to it while simmering to add more flavor.
Strain the fennel broth and discard the solids; reserve the broth for the soup.
Heat a soup pot with the oil and add the leek/onions and celery with the red pepper, a pinch of salt, turmeric, and asafetida. Stir and cook until veggies soften. Add a sprinkle of water as needed to keep the veggies from burning.
Add the chopped fennel bulb and stir-cook for a couple of minutes.
Add the tomatoes, broth, salt and pepper to taste and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 15-20 minutes or the veggies are tender.
Remove soup from heat and stir in the herbs and allow to rest for 10 minutes.
Puree the soup using an immersion blender or a regular blender; I prefer to leave it a bit chunky. Add a little hot water or broth to thin the soup if you like.
Serve hot garnished with the yogurt/creme/sour cream and a fennel frond or two. Enjoy!!