In the Mediterranean Tradition – the flavors here are a combination of mellow and bold.
Aromatic Basil and Fennel both have hints of anise (licorice) and team beautifully with sweet San Marzano Tomatoes.
Soup making is about using the best quality ingredients and understanding the method of how to prepare it to perfection.
Use the freshest ingredients!
Fennel: Height of season Fall to Spring, yet available year round.
Tomatoes: – Hey, it’s Winter now; so I’m using canned Italian San Marzano Tomatoes.
Use too farm-fresh plum tomatoes when available.
San Marzano tomatoes have a thick flesh with fewer seeds, and the taste is stronger, sweeter, and less acidic.
A “sturdy” Italian variety from the Valle del Sarno.
Basil: Organic basil bunches are always available; yet in Summer they’re super plentiful.
I like the soup with all this texture ~ although it is also brilliant blended which adds a creamy essence.
Got the ingredients… so let’s explore the method!
Each method of cooking effects food in different ways.
Sautéing the vegetables first, until just a touch golden – Fennel, Onions & Garlic – softens their structure and starts a gentle
caramelization… which adds flavor!
These vegetables are removed to the pan – so the tomatoes (drained) can be cooked over high heat to gain a roasted flavor.
Then the tomato juice and vegetable stock is added and the soup is then covered and stewed (covered in liquid.)
Cooks covered for 25 minutes.
A sophisticated soup that’s actually easy to prepare!
New to Fennel? Some Facts:
Fresh fennel is available all year round, but it is a cold weather crop and so it’s at its best from autumn to spring.
I love to cook it as it’s flesh melts into a silky texture. It is wonderful raw – very thinly sliced and added to salads.
All parts of the plant are edible; the bulb and stalks can be eaten raw or cooked, and the foliage makes a lovely (and edible) garnish.
Fennel is crunchy and slightly sweet, adding a refreshing contribution to the ever popular Mediterranean cuisine.
Both Fennel and Anise are native to the Mediterranean and both are from the same family.
The difference of the two is Anise is an annual and fennel is a perennial. They both are used for their licorice flavor, which comes from the essential oil called anethole found in their seeds.
The whole Fennel plant (bulb, stalks, fronds) is edible, while it is usually just the seeds from the anise plant that are eaten.
I have seen fennel labeled “anise” in Italian markets.
Anise seed comes from a bush that is grown specifically for the seed; no other part of the plant is eaten (think Chinese Five Spice Powder – a main ingredient.)
The fennel bulb or root is used as a vegetable, it may also be braised, grilled, fried or stewed.
It is wonderful served raw – think of shaving or thinly slicing the crisp bulb and adding to a salad with the feathery green fronds as garnish.
Fennel is a highly nutritional food, and linked to a range of health benefits.
Apart from the uses already mentioned, there are numerous medicinal uses and health benefits, mainly due to the components of its essential oils.
According to the USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, fennel bulb is a source of energy, vitamin , dietary fiber, potassium, and other essential minerals like calcium, phosphourus, and sodium. It provides small amounts of iron, magnesium, zinc, niacin and vitamin K. If that’s not enough – it contains B-vitamins, vitamin A, beta carotene and flavonols.
Fennel seeds are know to relieve indigestion while fennel essential oils may reduce inflammation.
Herbal tea herbal including fennel and fennel oil have the potential to relieve symptoms of colic and digestive issues.
If you love Vintage Accessories as much as I do, check out Doug’s Etsy site with a bevy of Vintage Mid Century Finds and Unique Gifts: hausmodern.etsy.com
I bought the burled bread board in this photo shoot from him.
Also see my SPECIAL SOUPS Category ~ for even more inspiration!
Enjoy this wonderful soup,