Monday, July 14, 2014

Rustic Tomato and Fennel Soup

Here's the answer to a chilly wintery afternoon. A gorgeous, thick soup, full of flavour and begging to be devoured with a chunk of crusty warm bread, drizzled with olive oil.

If tomatoes are in season (and oh so cheap), then this recipe is best prepared with fresh, vine ripened tomatoes. However, if you happen to have some large cans of whole, peeled tomatoes in your pantry (like we do, always), then this recipe is even faster to prepare.

Tomato and Fennel Soup
Serves: Oh, plenty!

2- 3 Tbs olive oil
2 medium fennel bulbs
1 large brown onion
3 cloves garlic, finely diced
3 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves finely chopped
1 Tbs fennel seeds
1.5 kg tomatoes or 2 x 800g cans of whole, peeled tomatoes*
3/4 cup vegetable stock**
sea salt and pepper
red wine vinegar
olive oil, crusty bread and parmesan to serve

To prepare the fennel bulbs, trim the stalks and base of the bulbs, quarter the bulbs and thinly slice. Slice the onion the same way.

Fresh thyme growing in my garden. Feeling proud that I haven't killed it- It's such a hardy herb!

In a large, heavy based pot (we use a large Le Chasseur french oven) heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the fennel and onion until the onion begins to soften. Add the garlic and cook, stirring until the onion becomes translucent. Add the fresh thyme and fennel seeds (smell that cooking, oh yum!).

* If you're using fresh tomatoes, remove the stalks, score a 'x' in the base of the tomatoes and blanch for several minutes in a large pot of simmering water. Drain and soak the tomatoes in cold water, remove the skin with a paring knife and quarter the tomatoes.

** You will need 3/4 cup of vegetable stock for this recipe if you use fresh tomatoes. I use fresh tomatoes when they're in season, otherwise prepare the soup using tinned tomatoes (below).

Using tinned tomatoes, add the liquid from each can to the pot and stir to combine. Smash the tomatoes in the tins with a wooden spoon, then add to the pot with one cup of water, stir. Bring to the boil, then reduce heat to a gentle simmer and cook for a further 50 minutes. The soup is ready when the fennel is softened and the tomato soup has a well rounded flavour. Add salt and pepper to taste, a splash of red wine vinegar will lift the flavour too.

Serve drizzled with olive oil, add finely grated parmesan for a non-vegan soup. Sometimes I like to serve this gorgeous soup with thick slices of gluten free toast topped with grilled parmesan. It's a little luxury to dip these cheesy pieces of hot toast into the thick soup.

Wholesome, organic ingredients direct from the farmer. Winter perfection.

How do you serve your favourite soup?

Bella xx

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