Fennel is under appreciated. Period. End of sentence. So are artichokes, but that's for another post....
Fennel makes for a creamy, elegant soup. When it's cooked the flavors of anise get caramelized to a new level of sweetness and enhances the flavors in ways you cannot achieve when used raw. Give it a try...
Roasted Fennel Soup
750 g fennel (about 3)
10 g garlic - whole
35 g carrots - roughly chopped
60 g celery - roughly chopped
100 g leeks - roughly chopped
4 T olive oil
1 T butter
1/4 c (about 55 ml) dry white wine
1250 ml stock of choice
125 ml ceram of choice
1 medium potato - cut in chunks (optional) makes the soup a bit thicker
fennel fronds for garniture
Oven on at 190-200 C (375-390 F). Cut the bottom of the fennel bulbs off. If the tips of the top stalks are also a bit dried or brown, you can cut a smidge of those off as well. Then peel off any outside layers that are very bruised or dirty. Those can be kept for making a broth or bouillon. Cut the fennel bulbs in 1/4's. Set them on a baking tray with lined paper. Drizzle with 3 T olive oil and sprinkle with salt & pepper. drop the whole garlic cloves on the tray still wrapped in their paper. Then roast in the oven for 1 hour maximum. You want them get some golden brown color while they bake and be rather soft (but not all the way cooked through) when pricked with a knife. Remove when done. Gently squeeze out the hot roasted garlic and throw away the papers. (If you love the taste of roasted garlic, double the amount in this recipe for more of a garlic-y punch.)
While the fennel is baking and close to done, heat up a large soup pot. Sauté the carrots & celery in the butter & remaining T of oil for 5 minutes with a lid on medium heat. Then add the leeks and potato (if using) and cook for another 5 minutes. Sprinkle with s&p, then turn up the heat to high and add the wine. This deglazes the bottom of the pot and you should scrape off any bits stuck with a wooden spoon. Cook for one-two minutes while stirring, then lower the heat and add the roasted fennel, the garlic meat out of the paper and any drippings from the tray. Cover with the stock and boil until the fennel is completely soft and will purée easily. Then purée into submission for as long as it takes until it is super smooth.. Add the cream. Check for seasonings and texture. If you prefer a thinner soup, you can always add some more stock or water to thin it out. Garnish with the fronds that you saved.