Zucchini and fennel soup.

If you’ve been reading in recent months, you’ve seen a few recipes that include fennel bulb, including this recipe for tomato and fennel soup, and this apple and fennel slaw recipe. Fennel doesn’t get enough love — mostly because people think it tastes like licorice. Believe you me, I hate licorice, but I love fennel: the crisp texture, the bright flavor. It plays especially well with tomato (as does tarragon, with its similar anise-like profile).

I recently came across a recipe for a simple pureed zucchini soup that included fennel seed. And I thought: Why not fennel bulb? And so this variation was born.

This zucchini-fennel soup recipe is pretty much the perfect transitional dish as we move from winter deeper into spring. A nice green color, light yet satisfying, packed with veggies, low in fat and calories. Like most soups, this one gets better with time in the fridge. It packs well for an easy lunch, and it would be nice chilled, with a dollop of sour cream of Greek yogurt.

zucchini and fennel soup recipe

(makes 4 servings)

2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 medium onion, thinly sliced
1/2 fennel bulb, thinly sliced
1 jalapeno, seeded and thinly sliced
3 medium zucchini, diced
2 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons fennel seeds, crushed (see Note)
4 cups vegetable or chicken stock
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
Plain Greek yogurt nonfat, snipped fresh chives and toasted pine nuts for garnish

In a stock pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat until it shimmers. Add the onion, fennel and jalapeno, and stir to coat with oil. Season with a pinch of salt; cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables soften, about 5–7 minutes. Add the zucchini, garlic and fennel seed and stir. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the zucchini is soft, about 5–7 minutes. Add the stock; bring to a boil, then reduce and simmer until the vegetables are falling apart, 15–20 minutes. Let the soup cool slightly. Working in batches, puree the soup in a blender. Return it to the pot and rewarm. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve the soup with a dollop of plain yogurt or sour cream, snipped fresh herbs and toasted pine nuts.

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