Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Roasted Fennel, Chickpea, and Tomato Soup

Fennel is such an interesting vegetable, and one I don't cook with very often. I think this is the second time I've ever bought fennel in the store. The first time I bought fennel had to have been over 5 years ago, and was in Portland. Even the cashier in Portland didn't know what fennel was, and had the hardest time tracking down the code to ring up the silly thing. She finally found the code under "anise". Ever since that day, I often think of fennel and anise interchangeably. So when I went to buy fennel for this soup, I knew I would help the cashier if the vegetable code was listed under anise. Because I knew, without a shadow of a doubt, that the cashier would ask me what the fennel was. Folks around here aren't very familiar with vegetables, and they'll ask what I'm buying if it's outside the standard lettuce, tomato, and onion box. In my experience, they aren't familiar with bok choy, kale, fennel, leeks, radicchio,  kiwi, any kind of hot pepper, and one time, someone asked me what an eggplant was. Sure enough, when I arrived in front of the cashier, she looked down her glasses at me and asked what the heck the fennel was. I told her it was fennel, or maybe it might be under anise. She looked at me like I was crazy, and went off to look for fennel in her books. After a minute or two, she looked up at me and asked what the other name was again. She finally found the code under anise, and I was on my way home to make this soup!

Pick up some fennel today! What an amazingly fragrant veggie. Fennel has fronds at the top of it, and after cutting the fronts off,  I couldn't believe the strong licorice smell it had. This soup has you roast the fennel in the oven before adding it to the soup, and the house smelled amazing while the veggies were roasting. My only piece of advice when roasting the fennel is to make sure you cut it into fairly large chunks. Smaller pieces of fennel will brown far too much, and end up with a slightly bitter taste. Uniformity in your knife cuts is essential to this dish.

And garden fresh parsley? Yes, please!

As far as soup goes, this one is fairly easy. Most of the work is done in the oven, and the second half of the work is done in simmering the soup. Mostly hands off! I thoroughly enjoyed this meatless soup, and served it alongside toasted pita wedges. 

So, y'all know how much I've been raving about the hubby and I's semi-meatless existence. About it easy it's been. Sometimes, you hit a wall. I hit the wall this week. I was making the menu plan for this week. My typical process is to use the grocery store ad and Pinterest to come up with a menu of the week. I don't know what it was but every recipe I wanted to make was meat of some kind. Of course, then I started to get irritated and cranky that I'm not making what I want. I started thinking, "Oh, I should just pick up some turkey. Or some hamburger. Or those chicken legs!". I resisted the swan song, but man. I was feeling tapped out of meatless meal ideas, utterly uncreative.  Regarding meat, our freezer is down to chicken breast, some bacon, and a couple of steaks. I've used all the pork chops, all the ribs, all the shrimp, and all the other chicken parts (wings, legs, thighs, etc). It's going to be a challenge coming up with creative meals with such a limited assorted of ingredients.

Changing the subject, I get to hit up one of my favorite places today, the library! I have not been reading as much as I would have liked according to my New Years resolution. I told the hubby that I've been spending inordinate amounts of time outside amongst my plants, there just hasn't been time to be inside reading. I feel funny telling him I don't have enough time, especially when I don't hold a public job. But that's the truth. When the daily chores are done and it's late in the evening, I collapse in a ball on the couch and reading is the furthest thing from my mind. That needs to change! Maybe if I check out books so interesting today I'll be compelled to pick up them up everyday. Wishful thinking or overly optimistic? That remains to be seen :)

Ingredients (serves 5-6):

1 fennel bulb, thickly chopped
1 large onion, thickly chopped
2 tsp olive oil
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 (14.5 oz) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp garlic, minced
4 cups chicken broth
2 (14.5 oz) cans diced tomatoes
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
3/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped


1. Preheat oven to 400º. Coat a cookie sheet with cooking spray.
2. In a large bowl, combine fennel through 1/2 tsp black pepper. Toss to combine. Spread mixture in an even layer on cookie sheet. Roast in preheated oven for 15 minutes, stir. Roast for another 10 minutes. 
3. Add chickpeas to cookie sheet. Bake for an additional 10-15 minutes, or until fennel, onion, and chickpeas are starting to brown. Remove from oven, set aside.
4. In a large stockpot, melt butter. Add garlic. Saute 30 seconds, or until garlic starts to brown. Add chicken broth, tomatoes, vegetable mixture, salt, and pepper to pot. Bring to a boil. Lower heat to a simmer, and simmer for 15 minutes. Season to taste.
5. Remove from heat. Add parsley to pot, stir to combine. Serve soup immediately with bread or toasted pita wedges.

Recipe adapted from Cooking Light.

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  1. This looks like a very intriguing soup. I bet Beate would love this!!

    1. I think you should make it for her Keith! Knock her socks off! :)