Sara lent us her copy of Farmer John's Cookbook: The Real Dirt on Vegetables so we could figure out what to do with the bounty of vegetables we've been getting from Luscher Farms on a weekly basis. For instance, this week's haul included tomatoes, basil, cilantro, summer turnips, broccoli, lettuce, carrots, cucumbers, zucchini, summer squash, and fennel. Fennel. What do you do with fennel? Thanks to Farmer John, I now know. It should be noted that this soup pairs nicely with a fresh loaf of Como bread. Oh, and Darr thinks bacon would be a splendid addition. A sentiment to which I'm inclined to agree.
1 sprig parsley, stem only
1 bay leaf
1 sprig thyme
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons vegetable or extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, sliced
1 to 2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 medium or large fennel bulb, roughly chopped
1 large carrot, chopped
1 medium potato, peeled and cubed
2 medium tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped (optional)
3 cups chicken stock
2 tablespoons Pernod (licorice-flavored liqueur) (optional)
1/4 heavy cream
chopped parsley (for garnish)
Tie together the parsley stem, bay leaf, and thyme sprig in a piece of cheesecloth.
Heat the butter and oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté for one minute. Add the garlic and sauté for an additional minute. Add the carrots, fennel, and potatoes and cook for five minutes. Add the tomatoes (if using), stock, and bouquet garni and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover, and cook for 30 minutes or until the fennel is very tender. Remove the soup from the heat, discard the bouquet garni, and let the soup cool slightly. Purée the soup, using a food processor or blender, and return the soup to the pot. Stir in the cream and Pernod (if using). Heat over medium-low heat until the soup is heated through, but do not boil. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with chopped parsley.