I think most of the country has a few more weeks until warm weather, so I’m offering this deep hearty soup as a small comfort in the long lingering winter. This soup was everything I wanted it to be on the cold and rainy day I made it: warm and comforting, creamy smooth, flavorful and filling. The roasted garlic and fennel give it depth and the beans give it substance so that with a slice of bread and a hearty salad you’ve got a very satisfying meal. I served it with salty crisped salami which highlighted the mellow sweetness of the fennel and garlic. I don’t think kids should always be a standard of a successful dish but when they gobble down a bowl of soup and ask for leftovers the next day I think it’s safe to say it’s a keeper.
roasted garlic fennel and white bean soup
12 cloves garlic
2 bulbs fennel, sliced 1/2 inch think, fronds cut off and reserved
olive oil and butter
1 onion, chopped
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 bay leaf
2 cans (about 3.5 cups) white beans (either cannellini or Great Northern)
3 1/2 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup heavy cream
salt and pepper to taste
optional garnish: crisped pancetta, bacon, or salami and fennel fronds
Preheat the oven to 400. Coat the fennel slices and unpeeled garlic cloves in a couple glugs of olive oil. Lay out on a sheet pan and roast for 30 minutes, or until soft and just beginning to brown on the edges. Remove from oven and set aside. When cool enough to handle, roughly chop up the fennel and peel the garlic cloves (you can basically just squeeze the cloves right out of the skin.)
Heat 2 Tbsp olive oil and 2 tbsp butter over medium heat. Add the onion, carrot, and celery and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, 5-8 minutes. Add the chopped fennel and garlic and cook for a minute or two more. Add the broth, beans, and bay leaf and simmer for 10-15 minutes. Remove the bay leaf and blitz the soup with an immersion blender, or in batches in a standing blender. Return to the pot and stir in the cream. Salt and pepper to taste. If desired, serve with a swirl of cream, a sprinkle of crisped bacon, pancetta, or salami and the reserved fennel fronds.