RECIPE

Zucchini and Fennel Soup with Garlic Croutons

The unique flavor of fennel sautéed with zucchini, onions and garlic gives this simple soup a gourmet touch. Finish with homemade croutons and whispy fennel fronds.

Ingredients

  • 3-4 slices good-quality white or peasant-style bread
  • 1 clove garlic, halved
  • Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), for drizzling
  • Sea salt and pepper
  • A small handful of grated Pecorino Romano cheese
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil  (EVOO)
  • 2 small to medium zucchini (about 1 1/2 pounds), seeded and diced
  • 1 bulb fennel (about 1 pound), cored, chopped and a handful fronds reserved
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, sliced
  • Sea salt and pepper
  • 4 cups vegetable stock or chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil, parsley or mint leaves in any combination, chopped

Preparation

Turn on the broiler and toast the bread until golden; rub with the cut sides of the garlic, then cut into cubes and place on a baking sheet. Drizzle with EVOO; season with sea salt, pepper and the Pecorino Romano cheese. Return the croutons to the oven and broil until the edges are crisp, 1-2 minutes.

In a medium size soup pot, heat 3 tablespoons EVOO, three turns of the pan, over medium-high. Add the zucchini, fennel, onion and garlic. Season with salt and pepper and partially cover the pot. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables soften, 10-12 minutes. Add the stock and a mug of water (about 1 1/2 cups). Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook until ready to serve. Stir in the herbs.

Divide the croutons among four bowls and top with the soup. Let stand for 2-3 minutes, then garnish with the reserved fennel fronds before serving.

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