I’m sure there are plenty of men who love salads and women who would pick a steak over a brownie, but I don’t know any of them. There are certain foods that seem to appeal only to women: Buddha bowls, taco salads, and soup. Men categorically dislike soup. I have no idea why. I could eat soup every day from October through April, and all the women in my life seem to feel the same way. This particular soup has a rich caramelized flavor that comes from oven roasting the vegetables before adding them to the pot.
Adapted from the now-defunct Gourmet Magazine, this recipe epitomizes what I loved about that publication: it’s easy to make, has a short ingredient list, and yet it’s impressive enough that I’ve made it for dozens of special occasions, the most recent of which was a holiday lunch with my mom, aunt and sister. My sister and I both have IBS, but our symptoms and problem foods are almost opposite. This soup, however, works for both of us.
The original recipe, which appeared in the November 2008 issue of Gourmet calls for an onion, which I’ve replaced with a handful of scallion tops, because I don’t tolerate onion well. I also microwave the fennel oil because it intensifies the flavor and aroma. I make this soup with an immersion blender which produces a chunkier texture that I love. If you want a silky smooth puree a traditional blender is best.
Fennel Carrot Soup
2 large fennel bulbs with fronds
1 lb. carrots, broken into 2” pieces
2 cloves garlic
1 bunch scallions (green onions), white bulbs removed and discarded
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1/2 teaspoon brown sugar
5 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 teaspoon fennel seed
Heat oven to 425° with rack in the bottom third of the oven. Slice fennel bulbs 1/4” thick and spread on a rimmed baking sheet along with carrots and garlic. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons olive oil, sugar, and about 1/2 tsp. salt. Roast for 30-40 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes or so. After 20 minutes, add the scallion.
Meanwhile, chop about 1 tablespoon fennel fronds and set aside, discarding remaining fronds and stems. Grind the fennel seed in a spice grinder or mortar and pestle. Mix with remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in a small bowl and microwave 30 seconds, until fragrant.
When vegetables are caramelized and tender, transfer to a soup pot and add stock. Use an immersion blender to puree to desired consistence. Season with additional salt to taste and heat for 5 minutes or so on stovetop. Serve in wide bowls garnished with fronds and fennel oil.