This whole thing happened by accident, which just happens to be one of my very favorite ways to discover a good recipe. Let me tell you about the time I bought this beautiful bulb of fennel at our neigborhood market. I didn’t really have a recipe in mind when tucking it into my canvas tote, but it was too gorgeous to leave behind. Do you ever shop this way, getting inspiration from what catches your eye but not really sure what you’re going to make? It’s one of the reasons I love grocery shopping. I can pick things up on a whim, make decisions on what looks ripe and yummy, always cooking what’s in season. This beautiful fennel was looking so pretty sitting there as I was gathering carrots and other root veggies for that evening’s supper. I am always so drawn to the soft look and feel of the delicate fronds. Fun fact! The illustration on the top of this blog is of botanical fennel if you didn’t know. Anyways, here I had fennel without a direction to go in or idea of what to do with it. I figured it would be pretty good roasted, and since I am the only one in our family who likes the taste of finely shaved fennel, that was my plan. I must tell you, if you haven’t had raw fennel with oranges and arugula, drizzled with a little bit of olive oil, try that out, it’s very tasty.
That evening I heated up our ovens and managed to cup up about five cups of veggies to roast. We had everything from brussel sprouts to broccoli to turnips to sweet potatoes, along with the fennel of course. I ended up putting the fennel in the Thanksgiving oven as we often call it, the one we happen to only use for special occasions. Turns out, I completely forgot about it there and it did not make an appearance in that night’s meal. Once the other veggies were done and tender we tossed them with brown rice and a simple lemon tahini vinegarette while the fennel kept on a roastin’ away. It wasn’t until midway through our supper, we started to smell the sweetness coming from the caramelized fennel and I knew that I had forgotten about it. Luckily it had not burned and was perfectly cooked, but by that time it was much too late to chop it up and add it to what we were already eating, so I was left with a bunch of roasted fennel to use up the next day. Wow, this is a long story about fennel.
Once lunch rolled around later the next afternoon, I found myself in a soup mood so I decided to throw it in a pot and add a can of fire-roasted tomatoes I had in the pantry. I tasted it and stirred it and tasted it some more. In the end, I only really adding a bit of veggie broth to thin it out and some red pepper flakes to offset the sweetness of the roasted fennel. I decided to puree it to a thin soup consistency, perfect for dipping.
I was so surprised by how flavorful it was because there were only five ingredients needed to make it! I suppose when the ingredients are good ones, one doesn’t need much, right? I sat down and ate some with Stella that afternoon along side some grilled cheese. When we were done, I froze half to heat up later on in the month because hearty, heathy soups are a winter favorite. I’ll be making this regularly!
- 1 large fennel bulb
- 1 28 oz. can of diced fire-roasted tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1-2 cups veggie broth. depending on how thin you prefer your soups
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (or more if you like things spicy!)
To prepare, wash and cut the greens off your fennel. Pat it dry with a clean cloth and then coat generously with olive oil, salt and pepper. Arrange it in a roasting pan and pop it in the oven at 375 degree oven for 45 minutes or until it is golden brown and tender. Once the fennel is roasted, transfer it to a pot with the remaining ingredients. Make sure to pour all the remaining olive oil from the roasting pan to the pot as well…don’t be wasting all that good flavor now! Let your five ingredients simmer on the stove for an hour or two, maybe listen to this podcast while you wait.
You can easily skip this stage and just blend everything together all at once, but I have found the favor is more profound if you let it sit awhile on low heat simmering away. After that hour or so has passed, use a blender to mix everything together. I love my hand-held immersion blender and use it weekly in the kitchen. And it makes for little clean up since you’re mixing right in the same pot you used to cook with. Can’t beat that! And that’s it to this recipe, seriously, so easy.
Make sure to have some good bread and butter to dip alongside, it makes all the difference. And if you’re like my husband and don’t think soup is a “meal” you could serve it with a fancy grilled cheese. His favorite that I make often has pulled pork, cheddar, gouda, and caramelize red onions in it. But me? I do happen to consider soup a wonderful meal on its own, so these five ingredients go a long way. Remember, soup and stews are almost always better the next day so if you let it hang in the fridge overnight and reheat, you’ll be in for an even tastier treat.