What do you do when you find a large bag of reduced fennel in your local Sainsbury’s? Make this soup!
I love experimenting with soups, and preserved lemon is one of my favourite ingredients, so why not try popping it in a soup? Add some gorgeous roasted garlic and thyme, and the result was, in my humble opinion, delicious.
(Admittedly, it’s not the most inspiring colour, but lovely to eat nonetheless!)
- 1kg fennel (about 5 bulbs)
- 1 bulb garlic (about 12 cloves)
- Olive oil
- 6 sprigs of thyme
- 2 onions
- ½ tbsp fennel seeds
- 1l vegetable stock
- 250ml unsweetened almond milk*
- Ground black pepper
- 2 preserved lemons**
- Salt (you may not need it after the addition of preserved lemons and stock)
*you could try extra stock, water, or another type of unsweetened milk if you don’t have almond milk to hand, but it needs to have a fairly neutral flavour
**if you don’t have any preserved lemons, and have no interest in buying some, then you could add fresh lemon juice to taste, the juice of half to one whole lemon will probably do
- Preheat the oven to 160°c
- Roughly slice the fennel into strips about 1cm thick, then add to a roasting tin with 2-3tbsp olive oil, the garlic cloves (unpeeled), and 4 sprigs of thyme. Cover with foil, then put in the oven to roast for about 90 minutes
- Whilst the fennel is roasting, place a large soup pan on a medium heat and lightly toast the fennel seeds (stop when the seeds become fragrant, and make sure you don’t burn them)
- Chop the onions and add to the pan with 2tbsp olive oil, the leaves from 2 sprigs of thyme (I added more thyme because I love it, but it’s up to you), and a good shake of ground black pepper
- Fry until the onions is soft, then set aside until the fennel has about 10 minutes left in the oven
- When the fennel is nearly done, place on a medium heat once again, and add 1 litre of hot vegetable stock. Allow it to simmer
- Check that the fennel and garlic bulbs are soft when pierced with a knife. The garlic may need longer, in which case remove the fennel and allow the garlic to cook until soft.
- Remove the woody thyme sprigs from the roasting tin, peel the garlic cloves, and then add the fennel and garlic to the soup pan
- Simmer for 15 minutes
- I added 250ml almond milk at this point, but it depends on how smooth you want the soup to be. You can always blend the mixture before adding extra liquid, then add it until it reaches your preferred consistency
- Chop the preserved lemons and remove the seeds, add them to the soup pan (or the lemon juice, if you’re replacing the preserved lemon)
- Remove the pan from the heat and blend the soup until smooth, then taste. If you’re a fan of preserved lemons, as I am, you can get a more itense flavour by adding 1-2 tbsp of the brine from the preserved lemon jar.
- Add extra seasoning to taste, then serve!
You can get the recipe for the pictured buckwheat flatbreads here.