Good Food, Good Life, 365 – Roasted Carrot and Fennel Soup
Roasted Carrot and Fennel Soup
1½ pound carrots
1 fennel bulb; discard the stalks, but reserve the fronds
2 tablespoons avocado oil or grapeseed oil, divided
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 medium yellow onion
1 tablespoon tomato paste
4 to 5 cups vegetable broth
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
Trim the fennel bulb (discard the stalks, but reserve and set aside the fronds), cut in half lengthwise, and then into ½-inch-thick wedges. Peel and slice the carrots into ¼-inch rounds. Toss the carrots and fennel with 1 T. olive oil, and several grinds of sea salt and black pepper. Spread the carrots and fennel evenly on a parchment-lined or lightly-oiled baking sheet, and slide into the oven for approximately 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until browned and tender.
While the carrots and fennel are roasting: Toast the fennel seeds in a small pan over medium heat for 2-3 minutes, until the aroma rises and they turn slightly brown. Grind them to bits with a mortar and pestle or in an extra coffee grinder that you use only for grinding spices. Coarsely chop the onion. In a large heavy pot, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and the ground fennel seeds, and cook until the onion is soft and translucent. Turn the heat to low, add the tomato paste, and stir to incorporate.
Add the roasted carrots and fennel to the pot, add 4 cups of vegetable broth, and bring to a simmer. Turn off the heat, and use a standing blender or an immersion blender to puree the soup. Add the additional 1 cup of broth, in part or in full, until you have achieved the consistency that you desire. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Garnish each bowl with a pinch or two of chopped fennel fronds.
The sweetness of fennel and carrots increases as they roast. That is why this soup needs no sweeteners added. The flavor is all natural.
Technically speaking, all parts of the fennel plant are edible, but most people will find the stalks too tough and fibrous to eat. The leaves can be chopped and used to flavor salads, dressings, marinades and sauces. They tend to have a slightly more citrus flavor than the base.
The bulbous base of fennel is delicious raw or cooked. The thick bottom and outer leaves usually are trimmed off, then the rest can be sliced or chopped.
As with most soups, this one gets better with age. Leftovers will warm up easily and taste delicious.
Tomato paste is available in jars and tubes. This makes it easy to use just 1 tablespoon at a time and refrigerate the rest in the tube or jar.
I like to chop the base of fresh fennel and saute it with the onions when I make marinara sauce.