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Tomato & Fennel Soup with Parmesan Crisps in a mid-century bowl

Herbed Tomato and Fennel Soup with Parmesan Crisps

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.

Herbed Tomato and Fennel Soup with Parmesan Crisps in mid-century bowls
For a fabulous umami garnish – add the parmesan crisps; bursting with enormous crunch and flavor
Tomato & Fennel Soup with Parmesan Crisps in a mid-century bowl
Basil is not just a garnish here – it’s part of the soup’s essence. Learn to chiffonade it – cut into finely-cut strips.

Soup making is about using the best quality ingredients and understanding the method of how to prepare it to perfection.

I like the soup with all this texture ~ although it is also brilliant blended which adds a creamy essence.

Vegetarian ~ Vegan without the crisps.

Tomato & Fennel Soup with Parmesan Crisps in a mid-century bowl


4 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil, divided

1 medium onion, 1 cup
peeled and sliced ¼ inch

1 medium fennel,
2 cups; bulb sliced ¼ inch

6 medium garlic cloves,
peeled and thinly sliced

2 teaspoons fresh rosemary leaves,

1 teaspoon fresh thyme,
leaves chopped

28 ounce can plum tomatoes;
San Marzano

2 tablespoons tomato paste

¼ teaspoon hot pepper flakes,
more if you desire

4 cups vegetable broth*

½ teaspoon sea salt

3 tablespoons fresh basil leaves



In a heavy, non reactive soup pot add 2 teaspoons evoo – raise heat to medium.
Add the sliced onions and let develop a little color, about 3 minutes.
Add the fennel, and garlic, mix well and let them fennel color a little; 3 minutes more.
Stir in the rosemary & thyme, mix in.

Remove all to a plate; wipe the pot clean.


Strain the can of plum tomatoes over a bowl.
Let the liquid strain, shake the strainer so the juice is caught below.
Remove the tomatoes, a few at a time – crush with your fingers into large pieces, add them to a bowl to fit. Ultimately – the tomatoes should be free of juice.

Add the remaining 2 teaspoons evoo to the pot. Raise heat to medium- high.
Add the tomato pieces to the hot pan and let them sizzle, stir when the pan seems dry.
Stir once, let the tomatoes pan-roast, about 5 minutes total time – this develops flavor!


Add the tomato paste and red pepper flakes (or your favorite red chile), still on medium-high heat, stir to incorporate, 30 seconds.

Add the reserved tomato juice (you will have 2 cups), vegetable broth and salt, bring to a boil.
Cover and reduce heat to a simmer and cook gently for 25 minutes until the flavors have melded and the fennel is very tender.
Option: you can whirl the soup in the blender until creamy, then add the garnishes.


To serve: ladle in individual bowls.

Cut basil in a chiffonade – roll multiple leaves tightly, and cut even very thin slices.
Add a “ball” of the basil in the center of each soup. Top with crushed Parmesan Crisps, see below.

Top with a drizzle of Chili Oil for a nice look and a little more spicy kick.


To make Parmesan Crisps:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silat liner.
Add 4; 1 tablespoon rounds of coarsely grated parmesan reggiano cheese – each about 3 inches.
Space them at least 2″ apart.

Bake until spread, lacy, crisp & golden, about 5 minutes.
These will crisp further as they cool, do not overbake as they will turn bitter.
Add some grated black pepper to them immediately when warm, if desired.

*Vegetable Base, the only one use: Organic Better Than Bouillon Seasoned Vegetable Base.


See BLOG for many photos and information.

This recipe may not be reproduced without the consent of its author, Karen Sheer.


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