fennel

Growing up, my mom used to serve us this delicious tomato-based Provencal fish soup. I loved it and wanted to recreate a vegan version the other day. I remembered the soup having fennel and orange zest in it. I also wanted the soup to still have that salty-briney character of the sea, so I reached for some olives. Fresh rosemary rounded it all out.

If you eat fish and want to include some in the soup, you can add 1/2 to 1 pound of white fish, cut into 2-inch pieces, to the soup in the last 5-10 minutes of cooking. It will cook in the soup.

Provencal Tomato & Fennel Soup

Serves 4

1 large onion
2 garlic cloves
2 medium fennel bulbs
⅔ cup pitted kalamata olives
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
1 orange
1 tablespoon tomato paste
28-ounces canned diced tomatoes
4 cups vegetable or chicken stock or water

Prep | Cook

Trim, peel, and chop the onion; add it to a large soup pot. Peel and mince 2 garlic cloves; add them to the pot.

Turn the heat to medium, and cook the onion and garlic, stirring occasionally, until they begin to soften and turn brown. If they stick, use a splash of water to loosen them from the pan. (By splash, I mean a tablespoon or two.)

Trim the stalks and fronds off the fennel bulbs, saving a few fronds for garnish. Core and chop the fennel bulbs.

Add the fennel to the pot and continue cooking, stirring occasionally until the fennel begins to soften.

Roughly chop the olives. Strip the rosemary leaves from 2 sprigs and chop. Grate 1 tablespoon zest from the orange; refrigerate the remaining fruit for another use.

Add the olives, rosemary, and tomato paste to the fennel, onions, and garlic and cook, stirring constantly until the tomato paste darkens slightly – a minute or 2.

Add the canned tomatoes and their juice and scrape any browned bits off the bottom of the pot. Add 4 cups stock or water and raise the heat to high.

When the soup comes to a boil, add the orange zest and adjust the heat so it bubbles gently but steadily. Cook, stirring once in a while until the tomatoes break down, 5 to 10 minutes. (See note above about adding fish at this point, if you want.)

Chop the reserved fennel fronds.

Taste and add salt/pepper as needed. Divide the soup among your serving bowls. Garnish with the fennel fronds and serve.

provencal tomato soupPhoto by Alice Henneman, used with permission

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