All images © Dina Avila 2013
I wasn’t sure if I was going to share this recipe with you. I found it while sifting through soup recipes at Saveur.com and it stopped my in my tracks. I absolutely love fennel. Adore it. But I’ve never made fennel soup and the recipe kind of took my by surprise. It’s original version has all of seven ingredients-including salt and pepper. I, of course, tweaked it here and there and, I have to admit, this soup kind of blew me away. The fennel simmers for a long time and you would think it would develop a concentrated licorice-y flavor. It does not. In fact, it stays bright and green tasting even when cooked to virtual mush. Granted I added a splash of Champagne vinegar and a dash of tarragon towards the end of cooking to facilitate that brightness, but I think the soup would be perfect if the original recipe was followed to a T.
Adam and I stirred it pieces of freshly roasted chicken and it took this soup to a new level. It became what chicken soup aspires to be. Perfect when it’s barely 29° just on the other side of the windows.
Speaking of roasted chicken, I usually make my roasted chicken according to my recipe that you can find here, but decided to rub the skin in slightly melted butter (along with salt, pepper and dried thyme) rather than olive oil. What a difference! It may very well have been the most delectable crispy chicken skin I’ve ever had. So good that I had difficulty resisting peeling bits of skin off to nibble on before serving.
Winter Fennel Soup
Adapted from Saveur.com
3 medium fennel bulbs
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 shallots, peeled and thinly sliced
4 cups chicken stock
2 medium Yukon gold potatoes, scrubbed clean and quartered.
About a teaspoon of dried tarragon
A pinch or two red pepper flakes, to taste
A splash or two Champagne vinegar
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Trim and quarter your fennel reserving about two tablespoons of the fronds.
Remove the core and cut the fennel into medium-sized chunks.
Warm the butter and olive oil in a soup pot over medium heat.
Add the fennel, shallots and one cul of the stock.
Cover and simmer for about 20 minutes. Until the fennel is soft and becoming translucent.
Turn the heat up a notch and add the potatoes.
Pour in the remaining 3 cups of chicken stock and bring to a boil.
Cover and simmer for 20 to 25 minutes and stir the tarragon, Champagne vinegar and red pepper flakes.
Let simmer for another 10 minutes until the potatoes are very soft.
Season with salt and pepper.
Gently mash the vegetables with a potato masher or the back of a wooden spoon. Until the soup is creamy but still a bit chunky.
Add water or stock if the soup is too thick for your taste.
Remove the pot from the heat and let sit for about 5 minutes before serving so the flavors can develop.
Serve warm with a few fresh fennel fronds and a drizzle of olive oil on top. Some slivers of fresh pecorino romano would be a great addition.