Vegetable Soup with Fennel and Pine-Nut Toasts
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
- 2 large bulbs fennel—quartered, cored and coarsely chopped, fronds reserved for garnish
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 4 ribs celery with leafy tops,thinly sliced on an angle
- 3 carrots, peeled and thinly sliced on an angle
- 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 bay leaf
- Salt and pepper
- Two containers chicken broth (32-ounce), (8 cups)
- 1/2 pound egg noodles
- 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
- 1/4 cup pine nuts, chopped
- 4 tablespoons butter, softened
- 1/2 loaf ciabatta bread, split
- 2 teaspoons grated lemon peel
In a soup pot, heat the EVOO, 3 turns of the pan, over medium-high heat. Add the fennel, onion, celery, carrots, garlic and bay leaf; season with salt and pepper and cook until the vegetables are softened, 10 minutes. Add the chicken broth and bring to a boil. Stir in the egg noodles and cook until al dente, about 10 minutes.
Preheat the broiler. Using a food processor, combine the cheese, nuts and butter. Lightly toast the ciabatta halves under the broiler for about 2 minutes. Spread the cheese mixture on the toast and melt under the broiler. Cut into eighths.
Discard the bay leaf; sprinkle the fennel fronds on the soup. Add the lemon peel. Ladle the soup into bowls and serve with the toasts for dunking.