Tomato Soup with Two Fennel & Greens
April 26, 2010 § 3 Comments
Yesterday afternoon was the pits. It lasted forever and was filled with doll-drum to-do’s like picking up dog mess and dragging giant, fallen palm fronds from one end of the house to the other. Suffice it to say, around the dinner-hour, I was a grouch. I opened up the fridge and freezer and momentarily debated dishing myself a bowl of soy milk ice cream + peanut butter (dinner of champions!). But I was too grumpy for ice cream. I hemmed and hawed and poked around in the back of the fridge. Low and behold, I found two smallish heads of fennel that I’d purchased two weeks ago at the farmers’ market. I could roast them Mollie-Katzen style, I thought, as I stared at them, side-by-side on the counter sending faint anise-scented puffs into the air. But last night, roasting anything – fennel or otherwise – seemed too hands-off. I find that one of the few fool-proof ways of staving off a rotten mood (or curing one that’s starting to plummet) is to fog up my glasses over a big, steaming pot.
Rolling through my mental recipe Rolodex, I then recalled a winning Molly Wizenberg recipe from her book, “A Homemade Life” – a terrific read, FYI, especially the googly-eyed parts where she meets her future husband, Brandon. As I recalled her ingredient list – yellow onion, check! plum tomatoes, check! – I grabbed my biggest pot. An hour-and-a-half later, mood already improved, I sat down to a bowl of warm, tomato soup and a wedge of toasted sourdough bread shmeared with a pat of herbed butter, and guys, I felt like a million bucks. My dad – lover of grilled cheese and tomato soup – claims this is his “favorite soup ever!” I’ve tweaked Molly’s recipe a bit – I added greens, more herbs and pesto – but the gist is the same and the inspiration is all from her.
One final note about the recipe: The soup’s flavor improves with time. If you can, make it a day in advance. Alternatively, make it an hour-and-a-half before you’d like to eat – it’ll be ready in an hour and you can let it sit for the final half-hour to let the flavors meld.
8 cups plum tomatoes (or two 28-oz cans, unsalted)*
1 large yellow onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
2 medium-sized fennel
2-4 cups leafy greens (beet greens, spinach, kale, collard greens, etc.)
2 tablespoons each: fresh basil, oregano & parsley
sea salt, pepper to taste
1/2 to 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
3-4 tablespoons pesto
*If following the SCD diet, use fresh tomatoes or canned tomatoes from Italy, with only “tomatoes” on the label.
1. In a large pot, heat 1-2 tablespoons olive oil on medium-high heat. Cook onions with a pinch of sea salt until slightly wilted, about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, cut fennel into quarters and dice. Add chopped fennel to onion along with roughly-chopped garlic. Cook an additional 5-7 minutes until the fennel starts turning translucent.
2. Break plum tomatoes into bite-sized pieces and add to pot with canned liquid. Fill one of the containers with water and add to the pot. Bring to a boil; lower to a simmer and cook for an additional 45 minutes with the lid off.
3. When the broth looks thicker, the soup will be nearly done (and if you taste it, the tinned-tomato taste will be gone and it will be replaced by a full-bodied, slightly anise-flavored broth). Add 1 tablespoon sugar and 1/2 tablespoon red wine vinegar. Add between 1/2 – 3/4 tsp. sea salt and several shakes of pepper. Taste the broth. If necessary, add an additional 1/2 tablespoon red wine vinegar (that’s what I do). Then, add leafy greens and cook for a few more minutes at a moderate simmer. Stir in herbs.
4. Remove from heat and, if time allows, let sit for 15-30 minutes with the lid on. The flavors will develop and get richer and the soup will still be piping hot. Alternatively, make the day before and reheat – the leftovers are even tastier! Serve with a drizzle of fruity olive oil on top or a dollop of pesto and, if you have it, toasted wedges of sourdough bread and butter (herbed butter, with minced garlic, rosemary and oregano is killer!).
Diet Notes: Gluten-free, SCD-safe (see asterisk)