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Esurientes - The Comfort Zone

Friday, July 21, 2006

Fennel and orange soup

This is one of Clotilde's recipes from about 2.5 years ago. I remember reading it and being really inspired to make it, but fennel is a winter vegetable, and it was mid-summer in Australia. It took a few months before I could do it, and I loved the result. I'm not a big fan of licorice, but I do like aniseedy vegetables like fennel and chicory. With the tang and sweetness of candied orange peel and marmalade added to it in the soup (yes, weird!), the taste combination is really unusual and bold. I think it's a great combination.

The soup is on the sweet side - another con in my experience - but again, it works. Many people can't abide the though of candied orange, but it's not so overpowering in this; all the flavours meld together. Yes, it is orangey, so if it's the strong orange flavour of the candied peel (and marmalade) that doesn't appeal, then you may not like this soup.

This is probably one of the most 'cheffy' tasting soups I've made - there's no hearty, rustic flavours and chunky textures like the usual things that come off my stove, but it's quick to make and tastes really interesting. From start to finish you can be eating this soup in 30 minutes...as I am right now. I think it would be a great starter for a dinner party; you could follow it with something quite heavy, but even fish would complement it well.

It's also good to eat if you stupidly burnt the roof of your mouth when tasting something you were cooking a few days ago and now cannot bear the pain to chew anything more solid than pureed soup. Not that I've been so stupid to do such a thing. Oh no....not me!
Read on for the recipe:

Tagged with
Soupe de Fenouil aux Ecorces d'Orange
Fennel and orange soup
From Chocolate & Zucchini

- three bulbs of fennel*
- two onions
- about 15 strips of candied orange peel (or chopped mixed peel)
- 2 tbsp orange marmalade
- 3 cups vegetable stock
- 1 tbsp coriander seeds
- 1 tbsp brown sugar or molasses (optional)
- olive oil
- salt, pepper

(Serves 4.)

Peel and chop the onions. Heat up some olive oil in a large saucepan and cook the onions on medium heat for a few minutes. Wash the fennel bulbs, cut off the stalks (reserve the little sprigs), remove the hearts and chop. Dice the orange peel.

When the onions are softened and slightly translucent, add the fennel, orange peel, coriander seeds, salt and pepper, and the stock. Cover, bring to a simmer and let cook for twenty to twenty-five minutes, until the fennel is thoroughly cooked.

Transfer all or part of the solids into a food processor, puree and return to the saucepan. Stir over low heat, adding the orange marmelade and brown sugar (if needed). Taste and adjust the seasoning. Serve in bowls, topped with a candied orange strip and a little sprig fennel if you feel all fancy and garnish-ish.

You can also soft-boil an egg, peel it and break it open in the bowl of soup, for a lovely blend of tastes and a complete meal
*I've made it using 1 bulb, and it's still good


  • You know, I keep meaning to try fennel.

    Ina uses it all the time, and I adore her, but I can guarantee no one was eating fennel where I grew up!

    Unfortunately, Matt hates anything licorice-flavored, so I'll have to come up with a way to serve it that he can avoid...yeah, good luck with that!

    By Blogger Stephanie, at 7/22/2006 01:49:00 am  

  • Sorry to hear about your (entirely hypothetical) injury! Such are the risks of being an eager foodie. Chalk it up to occupational hazards.

    That soup does sound really interesting. I do like reading C&Z for the unusual flavor combinations Clothilde comes up with (her asparagus and strawberry tart intrigued and disturbed me at the same time), but I've never really been motivated to try them out myself.

    Ever since getting it from the CSA back in SF, I've come to really enjoy fennel - roasted, stewed, or just sliced thin and tossed in a salad. Never thought to combine it with orange, however. I'm usually thinking of ways to de-emphasize or balance its sweetness (with salty stuff like cheese, earthy things like beets, or savory things like onions and garlic).

    By Blogger mingerspice, at 7/22/2006 04:49:00 pm  

  • Stephanie - The interesting thing about fennel is that after you've cooked it, the strong aniseedy flavour softens and modifies. The flavour is quite sweet. Clothilde speaks about it as well in her post, because she's also no great fan of fennel or aniseedy vegetables!
    But I have to say I'd never snack on a piece of licorice for fun....

    Mingerspice - When you mentioned Clothilde's tart I automatically assumed it would be a sweet dessert, and I had to read the post and recipe twice to confirm it was supposed to be savoury! Hmm - it really plays with your brain, doesn't it? I don't know how to interpret it - I imagine eating it would have been quite an experience!
    Like you I usually prefer fennel simply preperared. It's great with strong blue cheese or a salty dipping sauce. I've also really enjoyed just roasting it with a roast chicken...yum!

    By Blogger Niki, at 7/22/2006 05:26:00 pm  

  • Oh and incidentally, 3 days after the mouth burning incident the roof of my mouth is still in such excruciating pain that I can hardly eat anything without tears forming and great pain. Whoever thought it'd last this long?!

    By Blogger Niki, at 7/22/2006 05:27:00 pm  

  • Eeek, a burnt mouth, hypothetical or not, is no fun at all :(

    I've got all these recipes that call for fennel in a variety of ways (raw in salads, soup, braised etc) but just knowing that it tastes aniseedy/licorice-y makes me avoid it like the plague :( How mild does the flavour become once cooked?

    By Anonymous Ellie, at 7/22/2006 07:09:00 pm  

  • I always assumed fennel was too licorice-y but you're right, there's very little aniseed taste after cooking. I made a risotto with it the other night and it was lovely.

    Raw fennel is really nice in a salad, the aniseed hit does transform boring salad leaves!

    By Blogger Belinda, at 7/26/2006 06:30:00 pm  

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