it's okay to play with your food

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Ingredient of the Week: Fennel

I think of fennel as an acquired taste, something that is most often consumed by sophisticated adults living on the Upper East Side who have subscriptions to the Met season and use the correct French pronunciation when ordering at fancy restaurants. Basically I think that most Woody Allen characters would be eating fennel. And I usually look past it in the supermarket, cause, well, I don't really think of myself as an adult yet...or as a character in a Woody Allen movie...

But tonight I was a big girl, and I fell in love with my Creamy Fennel Carrot soup. It isn't just a case of "add enough cream and anything will taste good," either. The fennel melded so well with the roasted carrots. It wasn't overpowering but elevated the carrot soup into something completely appropriate for Mia Farrow and Michael Caine to share in a deleted scene from Hannah and her Sisters.

Creamy Fennel Carrot Soup

1 lb. carrots
olive oil
salt, pepper
1 small onion
1 large bulb of fennel
1 tangerine (or any citrus)
1 can broth
Approx. 1 c. light cream
chives for garnish

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix carrots with oil, salt and pepper. Roast for about 45 minutes.

Saute onion in oil for about 5 minutes. Add fennel and a generous spritz of tangerine juice. Saute for another 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add chicken broth and carrots. Bring to a boil and let simmer for 15-20 minutes.

In 3 small batches, puree the broth and vegetables with the cream using a blender or food processor. Combine the batches, stirring well to mix them together. Add salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with chopped chives.

Serves 4 people as a fabulous first course. Preceeding, perhaps, roast duck and a dessert of Floating Islands?


Samara said...

What a coincidence! I was just thinking about making Amanda Hesser's carrot fennel soup (like yours but no roasting, add a little garlic, and sour cream instead of cream, and garnish with fennel fronds). Seems perfect for early spring. Maybe I'll try yours instead!

I love your blog, babe!


kitchenplay said...

totally try mine! though the sour cream sounds like a nice touch. creme fraiche would be great too. I actually garnished mine with fennel fronds but they don't really add any flavor, which is why I suggested chives. tell me what you think!

Zander said...

My question, though, is whether fennel tastes like licorice, which I can't stand. How do you feel about licorice? I want to like it...

kitchenplay said...

Ok, this is part of why I used to dislike fennel myself- I don't like black licorice at all. But balanced by the carrots and cream, it recalls licorice but isn't too strong. You should try it out. If you don't like it, you can mail me the leftovers!