Recipe: Tomato and Fennel Soup

This recipe came straight from my latest acquisition: Anthony Bourdain’s Les Halles Cookbook. This is the joint Bourdain worked at as a chef for over two decades. He’s fiercely loyal to it, and I hope to dine there one day. In the meantime, I can try to master a couple of dishes from the cookbook, which has an overwhelming number of positive reviews.
All of the recipes are broken down easily enough and Bourdain guides you through the steps of French cooking with ease and a side of belittling.
The first recipe I decided to tackle is the Tomato and Fennel Soup. It turned out absolutely amazing and I did not want to share it all!
Please be sure to read my notes at the end of the recipe.

Tomato Fennel Soup

Tomato and Fennel Soup

4 tablespoons olive oil
2 fennel bulbs, cored and thinly sliced
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 small potato, cut into ½ cm cubes
1 225ml can plum tomatoes
6 cups of chicken stock/broth
salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a large pot, heat the oil over medium high heat, add fennel, onion and potato.
Reduce heat to medium-low and let the vegetables sweat for 10 minutes, taking care not to let them brown. Add the tomatoes, cook for 10 minutes more.
Stir in the chicken stock, bring the mixture to the boil.
Reduce to simmer and cook for 1 hour.

Go watch an episode of No Reservations. When Anthony has made you good and hungry, it’s part two of the recipe.

Remove the pot from heat and let the soup cool slightly.
Transfer the mix to a blender, working in batches to avoid accidents (DO NOT disobey this instruction)
Puree til smooth.
Return to the pot, bring to the boil, lower to a simmer, season with salt and pepper.

Servings: 6

– For whatever reason, I didn’t want to make the full 6 servings. I suppose in case it sucked? Shame on me. I ended up using about 5 cups of chicken stock, 1 large fennel bulb, 3 TBS of olive oil and a 14 oz. can of diced tomatoes (plus its juices). This soup still came out fantastic and easily one of my favorite soups.

– Try your absolute best not to skimp on the chicken stock. I had homemade, from a chicken carcass stock that I used and I can’t imagine using anything else, much as I love Swanson’s low-sodium broth.

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