December 19, 2009

Caramelized Fennel Soup



With all the buttery, sugary holiday indulgences, my body is begging for more veggies. Fennel is a vegetable I buy almost every time I go to the market because the kids love to snack on raw slices or even gnaw on the stalks, and we often shave fennel in our salads. (We actually planted some in our garden, but they aren't yet ready to harvest).

I am rediscovering the brilliance of Patricia Wells and her wonderful cookbooks and I decided to try this soup recipe from Patricia Wells At Home in Provence. As I picked herbs from my garden and tied up a bouquet garni, I contemplated how instrumental Wells has been in my adult cooking life. Her cookbooks served as anchors in Paul's and my newlywed lives. Now, going back to her cookbooks has been just as satisfying: once again, her recipe was simple, yet rich in flavor.





INGREDIENTS
  • 2 pounds fennel bulbs, trimmed and minced
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • sea salt to taste
  • bouquet garni: fresh rosemary, thyme, sage, and a bay leaf tied in kitchen twine
  • 1 quart homemade chicken stock







In a large stockpot, heat olive oil and chopped fennel over low heat. Cover pot and let fennel steam for 10-15 minutes (Wells suggests 10, but I like to do 15). Remove lid and continue to cook over low heat until the fennel is caramelized (about a half hour for me). Stir periodically to keep the fennel bits from burning. In the meantime make your bouquet garni and warm up broth.

When fennel is caramelized, add the stock and bouquet garni, cover and gently simmer for 30 minutes. Remove herb bundle, lightly puree soup, and serve.

This soup was delicious with a simple arugula salad and a shallot tart tatin.

4 small servings

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