Following last week’s recipe for homemade vegetable stock, I wanted to share a soup recipe that you can make with your homemade veggie stock.
This recipe for tomato and fennel soup has two sources of inspiration: 1) a recipe for Two-Tomato Soup with Fennel from the November issue of Food and Wine (with an accompanying photo by my friend and collaborator Evi Abeler — yay!!). And 2) my general love of the flavor combination of tomato and anise-y fennel or tarragon, like in this recipe for spiced sun-gold tomato sauce.
The F&W recipe seemed a little fussy, preparation-wise. So I’ve taken the basic flavor combination and the key technique (caramelizing part of the tomatoes with sugar), and simplified the recipe. Like all soups, this one gets better with time; the bowl I had for lunch the next day was fantastic, and the day after, even better. The recipe makes a ton of soup, so I stashed half of it in a quart container in the freezer.
Note No. 1: The recipe calls for a large can of whole peeled tomatoes, coarsely chopped. I like using kitchen scissors as a mess-free way to chop tomatoes — just stick the scissors (make sure they’re clean, of course) into the tomatoes and cut away. Do not be a chucklehead and do this directly in the can, as I did, lest you wind up, as I did, with a nasty gash on the knuckle from the sharp lid. Instead, just dump the tomatoes and juices into a bowl and use scissors to cut them into chunks.
Note No. 2: I’m experimenting with writing recipes in paragraph form, rather than as a list of ingredients and measurements, followed by instructions. I’m seeing this style — which is, in fact, very old-fashioned — in some cookbooks and magazines. My hunch is that the paragraph style is easier to read on a computer screen or tablet. Let me know what you think!
roasted tomato and fennel soup
makes about 8 cups
Preheat broiler. Cover a rimmed baking sheet with foil; on the baking sheet, toss 2 pints cherry tomatoes with 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 tablespoon granulated sugar. Broil 10 minutes or until the tomatoes are charred and the sugar is caramelized. Remove from the oven.
In a big soup pot, heat 3 tablespoons olive oil until it shimmers. Add 3 fennel bulbs, thinly sliced, 3 shallots, thinly sliced and 6 cloves garlic, sliced. Season the vegetables with salt. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring several times, until the vegetables are soft. Add 1 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes, coarsely chopped, 3 sprigs fresh thyme and 3 sprigs fresh tarragon, salt and a generous pinch of red pepper flakes. Fill the empty tomato can with water or vegetable stock (or a combination) Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer 40 minutes, until the fennel is very tender. Let the mixture cool slightly, then add the roasted tomatoes to the pot.
Working in batches, puree the vegetable mixture in a blender to your desired consistency. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve in bowls with a fennel fronds and shaved Parmesan cheese.