Rich Summer Fennel Soup

 This may look overly complicated, but the CSA members who made it last year raved about it!

 Bouquet Garni: 1 sprig parsley, stem only
1 bay leaf
1 sprig thyme

Soup: 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 medium onion, sliced
1 to 2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 medium or large fennel bulb, roughly chopped
1 large carrot, chopped
1 medium potato, peeled, cubed
2 medium tomatoes, peeled seeded, chopped (drop into boiling water for 30 seconds to have them peel themselves, mostly)
3 cups vegetable or chicken stock
1/4 cup heavy cream or silken tofu
salt & pepper & chopped parsley 

1.  To prepare the bouquet garni, tie together the parsley stem, bay leaf, and thyme sprig in a piece of cheesecloth. 

2.  Heat the butter and oil in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Add the onion;  sauté for 1 minute.  Add the garlic and sauté for 1 minute more.

3.  Stir in the fennel, carrot, and potato and cook for 5 minutes.  Add the tomatoes, stock, and bouquet garni.  Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer.  Cover and cook over low heat until the fennel is very soft, about 30 minutes. 

4.  Discard the bouquet garni.  Let the mixture cool slightly and then puree it in batches in a food processor or blender (if you are using tofu instead of cream, add it now and puree with the rest of the ingredients). 

5.  Return the soup to the pot and stir in the cream.  Heat over medium-low heat to allow the soup to heat through, but do not boil.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Garnish with parsley. 

 Farmer John’s Cookbook:  the Real Dirt on Vegetables

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