You are not going to believe how creamy, smooth and tasty this simple soup is, and even better, you can have it on the table in under 30 minutes. From my friends at Cooking Light Magazine, this soup was recently featured as a "High Velocity Vegetarian" dish and for good reason….it is super fast to make, and fires on all 12 cylinders.
If you're not a strict vegetarian, feel free to substitute some chicken stock for the water, and some standard parmesan cheese for the vegetarian version, either way you'll end up with a satisfyingly creamy (without the use of even a drop of cream!) bowl of pure veggie goodness. A can of drained and rinsed white beans gives the soup it's terrific texture and creaminess, and the sauteed fennel adds just enough of a hint of licorice to make it truly memorable.
This is a great dish to try if you've never cooked with fresh fennel before and are concerned that you might not like it (though I assure you, you will!) because the addition of the beans and various toppings help to keep the final soup from being overwhelmingly tasting of fennel.
The fresh toppings of cheese, mint, lemon, and almonds add a nice textural contrast and fresh herbal notes. Eating healthy never tasted SO GOOD or looked so dang pretty in a bowl.
Cheers – Steve
- 5 teaspoons olive oil, divided
- 3 cups sliced fennel bulb
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
- 2 1/2 cups water
- 1/2 teaspoon white vinegar
- 1 (15 ounce) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
- 1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted
- 3 tablespoons small fresh mint leaves
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 1 ounce (vegetarian) parmesan cheese, finely shredded (about 1/4 cup)
- Heat a dutch oven over medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon oil; swirl to coat. Add fennel, onion, garlic, and 1/4 teaspoon salt; cook 1 minute. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and cook 6 minutes or until crisp-tender (do not brown), stirring occasionally.
- Add remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, 2 1/2 cups water, vinegar, and beans. Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes. Place half of mixture in a blender. remove center piece of blender lid (to allow steam to escape); secure blender lid on blender. Place a clean towel over opening in the lid (to avoid splatters). Blend until smooth. Pour into a large bowl. Repeat procedure with the balance of the mixture.
- Combine almonds, mint, zest and cheese. Divide soup among 4 bowls; top with almond mixture and drizzle with remaining 2 teaspoons of olive oil.