More Soup!

It’s no secret that I love soups. There are so many variations, so many flavors, and most are super quick and easy. The perfect meal to throw together on a weeknight, and generally no recipe is required. But, here’s one anyway! This Fennel and Artichoke soup came about as one of those things that I tasted and had to immediately replicate it at home. Every year (or sometimes every other year), I throw a tiki party. This has been going on for about 10 years now. Why? Because, why not?! One year, my old college roommate was in town during one of these events. She, my roommate David, and I were spending the day decorating and planning, do David went down to Whole Foods to get us lunch. We had asked him for sandwiches. He came back with the sandwiches, plus a container of this amazing soup. It was so simple, yet had a wonderful complexity. I knew I had to make it myself. So, after the Mai-Tai’s had been drunk and all that was left were some random leis scattered around, I got to work. This is the recipe that I came up with, although I have improvised on many occasions due to lack of ingredients, or substitutions based on what I’m in the mood for. Today, I had some creme fraiche in the fridge, so I added a dollop of that! That’s the wonderful thing about soups – they are infinitely customizable.

Ingredients:

  • 3 medium-large fennel bulbs, sliced
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 1/4 cup brandy or cognac
  • 3 cans artichoke hearts in water, quartered (I have made this with fresh artichokes when they’re in season… it just takes a bit longer since you have to clean the artichokes!)
  • 1 can artichoke bottoms, chopped (these are sometimes hard to find. you can substitute another can or artichoke hearts)
  • 4-5 cups chicken stock
  • Cream to taste
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Coat the bottom of a heavy pan with olive oil. Add the onion and fennel and sauté till soft (8-10 minutes).
Add brandy (or cognac) and reduce.
Add artichoke bottoms and artichoke hearts, then pour in enough stock to cover, plus a bit more. (depends on consistency you want) Season with salt and pepper.
Simmer for about 15-20 minutes.
Take out about 1/2 of soup and grind through a food mill. Alternately, you can puree with an immersion blender.
Add some cream if desired and bring back to a simmer, to heat through.
Garnish with snipped chives.

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