Fennel Cream Soup with Caramelized Fennel

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When it comes to fennel, you either do or don’t like it. I really like it. Especially now when the season starts. It’s is a wonderful vegetable with a multitude of uses and is very suitable for chicken, fish and rich vegetable dishes. This soup is a perfect way to open up the holiday meal- it’s light and delicate, yet distinctive and unusual. The addition of caramelized fennel also gives a festive dimension to the soup, if it’s too much of a fuss for you, skip it, and just sprinkle some toasted almonds or pine nuts and a drizzle of olive oil for color.

  • Duration
  • Cook Time
  • Prep Time
  • 10 ServingsServings

Ingredients

  • 4 pounds fennel (including 2 pieces for the decoration)
  • 2 large onions, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons Pastis/Arrack anise flavored liqueur
  • 2 leeks, white part only, chopped
  • 2 stalks of celery, rinsed well and diced
  • 3 liters (12 1/2 cups) chicken or vegetable stock
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 1 Star anise
  • Salt and white pepper to taste

For the caramelized fennel decoration-

  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • teaspoon of brown sugar

Preparation

Heat the olive oil in a large pot and start to fry the onions, be careful not to golden the onions just soften them until translucent. Add the Pastis/Arrack and leeks and continue frying. Add the diced celery and stir.

Clean the fennel well, chop coarsely and add to the pot. Stir and soften the vegetables at least 10 minutes. Add the stock and star anise and bring to a boil. Reduce heat until a gentle simmer and cook until all the vegetables are soft (about 40 minutes).

Remove the star anise. 
Drain the vegetables (keeping the liquids) and place in food processor or blender with a hand blender. Process until smooth. Strain the puree from hard fiber bits.
 Transfer the puree to the pot then, add it to the liquids as needed until the desired consistency, I love creamy. Heat again, season with salt and white pepper to taste.

Prepare the dish decoration - Slice thin slices from the 2 fennels set aside. Heat a large skillet with olive oil. Arrange the slices nicely in the skillet, sprinkle with brown sugar, a little salt and begin to brown them over medium heat. When they are beautifuly golden brown, turn over, and golden the other side. Set aside until serving.
 Upon serving the dish, boil the soup, pour into serving bowls, place a slice or two of caramelized fennel on top.

+ + If you wish to make the soup dairy, you can replace vegetable broth in equal amounts of water and milk, and oil to replace the same amount of butter.

+ + you can add 2-3 potatoes to the soup along with the fennel to have a more hearty filling dish.

Photo Credit: Sascha Schuermann