I am a devoted soup lover, and most of the year, my soup needs to be of the piping hot variety, with actual tendrils of steam curling up in the air. But sometime in the sultry weeks of July and August my soup loyalties shift, and I’m on the prowl for cool and simple soups. You know those nights when you drag yourself through the door, almost too hot and cranky to eat? These are the nights when a quick and silky chilled soup is your best friend, and this fennel soup is just about as easy as they come, and with no cream whatsoever it’s as healthy as healthy can be.
Now, you obviously need one of these. Isn’t he handsome? Sweet-smelling, delicious fennel. Try not to snack on too much of it while you are making this recipe, tempting as that may be. Or buy several!
Chop off about 1/2 inch of the bottom, and cut the stalks off the top so you are left with just the bulb, and cut the bulb into small pieces. 1 to 2 inch size pieces are just fine, and don’t worry about making them look pretty because they are going to ultimately get pureed. Now chop up an onion and toss both the onion and the fennel into a saucepan with some butter, and stir it around over medium heat until it softens up.
Next, add 5 cups of chicken stock (you can sub in water if you want this to be a vegetarian version), cover up your pot and simmer until the onions and the fennel are super-soft, about 20 minutes or so. Now let it cool a little, and then puree it either with an immersion blender (my favorite way – it’s like magic!) or in your blender or food processor. If you are using your food processor you will have to do it in a couple of batches.
If you like your soup with a little texture you can pop it in the fridge as is. I like a totally creamy soup, so I strain it through a fine mesh strainer to get the remaining fibers and bits from the veggies out. Totally up to you! One way or the other, this baby needs at least several hours to cool down…I like to make mine the night before, which has the extra added advantage that it is practically DONE the next day when it’s time to start dinner.
Because the only thing left to do now is the garnish…and this isn’t just for good looks. Nope, these pretty little garnishes are going to add a fabulous flavor punch to your well-behaved soup. The only thing that is going to take you any time at all (and by time, we’re talking oh, five minutes) are the buttered walnuts, which are going to give your soup the perfect little bit of crunch. They are pretty much what you think they are….walnuts that you saute in a little bit of butter until they are toasted and wonderful. The other garnishes are little basil leaves (or chopped basil if you have big basil leaves), some fresh ground pepper and a drizzle of olive oil.
Almost too pretty to eat, right? Almost…it’s soup for supper!
Chilled Avocado Cucumber Soup from Framed Cooks
Creamy Fennel and Leek Soup from Pinch My Salt
Roasted Fennel Soup from Sippity Sup
- 2 pounds of fennel, trimmed and cut into 1-2 inch pieces
- 1 large onion, peeled and chopped
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 6 cups chicken stock (I like the Imagine and Pacific brands) or water
- 1 cup walnut pieces
- Basil leaves
- Fresh ground pepper
- Olive oil
- Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a saucepan and add fennel and onion. Saute until the vegetables start to soften, about 5 minutes or so.
- Add the stock, bring to a simmer, cover and cook until the veggies are completely soft, about 20 minutes.
- Puree the soup with an immersion blender (or in your food processor or blender) until smooth. At this point you can strain the soup through a fine mesh strainer if you want it completely smooth...if you like some texture then skip the straining part.
- Chill the soup in the fridge for at least a few hours and ideally overnight.
- When you are ready to serve, saute the walnuts in the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter until they are starting to toast, about 5 minutes.
- Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with buttered walnuts, basil, pepper and a drizzle of olive oil.