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Fennel and onion soup

Time 2 hours 25 minutes
Yields Serves 4 to 6
Fennel and onion soup
(Bob Chamerlin / Los Angeles Times)

Light vegetable stock

1

Heat the oil in a tall 8-quart stockpot over medium-high heat. Add the leeks, carrots and celery and cook until tender, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

2

Add the garlic, peppercorns, bay leaf, parsley, fennel and thyme. Add 10 cups cold water. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat, cover and cook at a hard simmer 35 minutes.

3

Remove the pot from the heat. Strain the stock through a fine mesh strainer, gently pressing the vegetables to extract liquid. Discard the vegetables. You should have 9 cups of stock.

Soup

1

Trim the feathery fronds and stems from the fennel bulbs. Chop 1 tablespoon of the fronds and reserve. Cut the bulbs in half lengthwise and remove the cores. Thinly slice on a mandoline.

2

Peel the onions, then very thinly slice on a mandoline.

3

Heat the oil in a heavy 5 1/2 -quart sauce pot and saute the fennel, onions and sugar over high heat for 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium and cook until the vegetables are very tender and lightly browned, 30 to 40 minutes.

4

Add the wine and simmer 1 to 2 minutes or until the wine is almost evaporated. Add the vegetable stock and salt. Cover and simmer 20 minutes to blend flavors.

5

Add the Armagnac, if using, and simmer, uncovered, 10 minutes. Stir in the reserved chopped fennel fronds. Season to taste with salt.

6

Put the baguette slices on a baking sheet. Broil until golden brown and crisp, about 45 seconds to 1 minute. Rub each slice with the cut garlic clove, then turn and brown the other side, about 20 seconds. Serve the soup with the garlic toasts on the side.


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