Thursday, February 28, 2013

Tomato Soup with Two Fennels

I won’t bore you with the details but I had to have a dental procedure…not just a filing, a root canal or a cap, no, not me, when I do something I do it up real good!  This was a real, card-carrying dental surgical procedure, complete with swelling, a little pain and stitches, 14 of them!  I am restricted to “easily chewed foods, such as eggs, soup, etc…” for a couple of days, along with 9 other little gems of “Information Following Surgery” that included what to do in the event of possible bruising.  I look like I was in a fight, like a Million Dollar Baby, minus the million dollars.

That was a long-winded and perhaps TMI introduction as to why I made Tomato Soup with Two Fennels, my latest undertaking from A Homemade Life, for dinner on Wednesday night.

For those of you not familiar with fennel's scientific classification, it is a member of the Umbellifereae family and is a kissing-cousin of parsley, carrots, dill and coriander. If is often used in Italian cooking and adds a crunchy texture and slightly sweet flavor to any dish.  Similar to the texture of celery and very aromatic, fennel has a licorice-like taste and is often confused with anise.  The fennel bulb is an excellent source of vitamin C and great source of fiber and potassium.

A little while ago, The Pioneer Woman hosted a giveaway for a le creuset enameled cast iron casserole.  PW is so generous…have you ever noticed how generous she is? Anyway, I entered, but didn’t win.  I didn’t win the fabulous "Old Gringo" cowboy boots either!
Since the yellow-pot-luck evaded me, I decided to purchase a lovely (and cheaper) 6 quart understudy from The Martha Stewart Collection.  You know I love Martha, but I would have loved to have won that le creuset model.  Regardless, I ordered the Martha version from Macy’s and it arrived just in time for me to make this soup! PW....if you read this post, which I'm fairly certain you will not, and decide to award another as a consolation prize, I'm in....or maybe the boots...size 7.

Tomato Soup with Two Fennels
From: A Homemade Life by Molly Wizenberg

3 Tablespoons olive oil
1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced (I used a Vidalia onion)
2 medium fennel bulbs, trimmed, quartered from root to stalk and thinly sliced
4 medium garlic cloves, chopped
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, chopped
1/2 teaspoon fresh marjoram leaves, chopped (my addition, just because I had them handy)
2 teaspoons fennel seeds
2 28-oz cans of whole, peel tomatoes (I used San Marzano)
¾ teaspoon sea salt
Sugar, to taste (I used brown sugar, about 2 teaspoons)
Red wine vinegar, just a splash
French baguette, sliced and toasted
Goat cheese
Olive oil to drizzle

In a large pot or Dutch oven, warm the olive oil over medium heat.  Add the onion and fennel and cook, stirring occasionally until the onion starts to soften, about 5 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook, stirring frequently until the onion is translucent and very soft, 5-8 minutes more.  Add the thyme and fennel seeds and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes.  

Pour the juice from the tomatoes until the pot and stir the mixture.  With your hands, crush the whole tomatoes into small chunks that still remain in the can and add to the pot.  Fill one empty can with cold water and add that and bring the mixture to a boil.  Adjust the heat to a gentle simmer and cook, uncovered for about 45-60 minutes.

The soup is ready when the fennel is tender and the soup tastes like a good soup, not like raw tomatoes.  Add salt and sugar to taste and a splash of vinegar.  To serve, spoon into a bowl, drizzle on some olive oil, and top with a toasted baguette slice slathered with goat cheese.

We also had a delicious berry cobbler that I completely forgot to take a photo of, and istened to Sarah Vaughan and Steve Earle radio on Pandora...a lovely evening, even if I looked like I was in a brawl. 

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