Caramelized fennel soup

Yield: 4 Servings

Measure Ingredient
2 pounds Fennel bulbs; trim/mince
6 tablespoons Extra-virgin olive oil
4 cups Vegetable or chicken broth
½ cup Whipping cream; opt
Sea salt; to taste
Fresh rosemary
Fresh parsley
Bay leaf
Fresh thyme
Tie together with twine

BOUQUET GARNI

1. Combine fennel and oil in large, heavy-bottomed stockpot. Stir to coat fennel with oil. Cook, covered, over low heat 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. If fennel burns it will give the soup a bitter taste.

2. Remove lid; continue to cook over low heat. Pieces should gradually brown and caramelize. Add bouquet garni and broth; simmer; covered, 30 minutes.

3. Discard bouquet garni. Using an immersion blender, roughly puree soup in stockpot. (Alternatively, pass soup through coarse blade of food mill or puree coarsely in batches in food processor; and return to stockpot.) Soup should be creamy but not totally smooth. Stir in cream, if using; reheat. Taste for seasoning. Serve piping hot in warmed shallow soup bowls.

NOTE: Fennel has a tough outer skin. It's well worth it to peel it with a vegetable peeler.

Source: "Patricia Wells at Home in Provence" (printed in the Chicago Tribune, February 26, 1997)

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