fennel and rice soup

This is another recipe from David Tanis’ The Heart of the Artichoke. I decided to go for it because I’ve never had a fennel soup. It did not turn out as I expected, but was good nonetheless. I had anticipated a much more prominent fennel flavor, but the fennel was subtle and balanced by chicken broth, onion and rice. Jordan thought that the soup was super comforting and he was a big fan of the herb sauce on top. Not only is this soup inexpensive, it will also use up any herbs lingering in your fridge.

Fennel and Rice Soup with Herb Swirl, adapted from The Heart of the Artichoke by David Tanis

For the soup
1/4 cup olive oil
2 – 3 fennel bulbs, sliced
1 onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves
salt and pepper
1/4 cup long grain rice
6 cups chicken broth or water

For the swirl
1 cup fennel fronds, roughly chopped (from the tops of your bulbs)
1/2 cup parsley
1/2 cup basil (I didn’t have basil and instead used dill)
1/4 cup scallions (I didn’t have scallions and instead used shallot)
1/2 cup olive oil
salt and pepper

In a dutch oven or stock pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the fennel, onion and garlic. Season well with salt and pepper. Saute until the vegetables are softened and lightly browned.

Add the rice and broth. Bring to a boil and then lower the heat to simmer. Add more salt. Simmer for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the herb sauce. In a food processor or blender, puree the herbs and scallions with the oil. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Puree the soup in a blender until you have a smooth puree (or, in my case, with an immersion blender until you have a chunky puree). David recommends that you strain the soup after you’ve pureed it, but I skipped that step. I like rustic food and I was attached to the idea of little rice pearls in the soup.

To serve, ladle the soup into a bowl and then spoon some of the herb sauce on top. Jordan requested that I bring the herb sauce to the table, so I’ll recommend that to you as well. Some cheesy toast never hurt either.

-Emily