Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Carrots and fennel make a great
pair in comforting soup

Individually, carrots and fennel are great soup ingredients.
   But I don’t think I’d ever had them together in one soup until recently, when my husband made Carrot Fennel Soup (click for the recipe) from Gourmet magazine.
   They were a terrific pairing.
   People who like the earthy, deep flavor of carrot soup will likely be delighted by the very slight licorice taste the fennel and fennel seeds add.
   Because we have a hand blender (also known as an immersion blender), my husband adapted the recipe to use it instead of a regular blender.
   Instead of puréeing the roasted vegetables in a blender with chicken broth, then transferring it to a saucepan and bringing it to a simmer with some water to thin the soup, my husband brought the broth and water to a simmer, then added the roasted vegetables. He then used a hand blender to purée the soup until smooth.
   The recipe says to use an electric coffee or spice grinder to grind the fennel seeds that go on top of the soup, but my husband used a mortar and pestle to grind the seeds instead. A small electric chopper may also do the trick.
   Fennel bulbs are found in the produce section of many supermarkets, while fennel seeds are found in the dried spices aisle.
   The recipe says to chop the fennel fronds, the part that looks like dill growing out of the top of a fennel bulb, to save as a garnish to sprinkle on the soup. We didn’t bother with this step.
   The stalks and fronds are cut off two medium fennel bulbs. The bulbs are sliced and tossed with carrots, onion, garlic, olive oil, sugar, salt and pepper. The vegetables are spread in a baking sheet and roasted until tender, 25 to 30 minutes.
   The vegetables are then combined with the store-bought chicken broth (in the way the recipe outlines, or the way my husband did it – see above.)
   Fennel seeds are finely ground and stirred into olive oil.
   Serve the soup drizzled with the fennel oil.

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