Orange Scented Fennel Soup|
I love fennel - and think none of us use it enough in the kitchen - but am especially fond of it paired with oranges. This simple soup is one of my favorite pairings of those two flavors and a great recipe to have on hand because it is very versatile. It makes a great lunch soup with a salad or sandwich, but I have really liked it best served as a first course for a festive fall or winter meal - or even a holiday dinner. It is very light and refreshing, and best of all can be made in advance and reheated for serving which scores lots of bonus points when I am orchestrating an elaborate dinner. The soup can be made up to two days in advance and simply reheated in a saucepan or microwave before serving.
3 tablespoons butter
6 large minced shallots
3 minced garlic cloves
1 large seedless orange
3 pounds fresh fennel
7 cups chicken or vegetable stock or broth
2/3 cup heavy cream
Freshly ground pepper
Heat the butter in a large saucepan over low heat until melted. Add the shallots and garlic and cook for about 10 minutes or until fragrant and soft. While the shallots and garlic cook, remove a tablespoon of zest from the orange and set aside for garnishing. Slice the orange quarters, reserving the juice, and set aside. Coarsely chop the fennel, reserving some of the feathery fronds for garnishing. Add the broth, the orange quarters and juice, and the fennel to the saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Cover and reduce the heat to low. Simmer for 45-60 minutes. Remove the orange pieces, squeezing out any juice and discard the orange. Puree the soup in batches in a blender until smooth and return to the pan. Add the cream and season to taste with salt and pepper. If making in advance, chill and then refrigerate the soup until you are ready to serve. Reheat before serving and garnish with the reserved fennel fronds and orange zest.
Makes 8 servings as a first course, 4 servings as a main course.
Preparation Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes