Asparagus and Fennel Soup by Ina Garten

asparagus_fennel_soupHere at The Cupboard we have carried Ina Garten’s cookbooks from the beginning of her career. She is a favorite among the staff, and her recipes often show up at staff potlucks or are discussed over lunch. This soup is particularly lovely and great for this cold winter weather. The recipe comes from Ina Garten’s cookbook “Cooking for Jeffery” published in 2016. This is part of our regularly stocked cookbooks, so if, after making this delicious soup, you find you need to come in and take home this cookbook, we can help! We highly recommend adding it to your cookbook collection. Lori will be making this soup in our kitchen for the February 16th Foodie Walk from 5-8pm! Stop by and try it in person!

Asparagus and Fennel Soup   serves 6-8

2 1/2 tablespoons good olive oil

2 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter

5 cups (3/4 inch diced) fennel, tops and cores removed. (two fennel bulbs)

3 cups chopped leeks, white and light green parts (2 leeks)

2 1/2 cups chopped yellow onions (2 onions)

1 pound medium think asparagus

1/2 cup long grain white rice

8 cups good chicken stock

3 large sprigs fresh thyme, tied with kitchen string

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup julienned fresh basil leaves, plus extra for garnish

2 tablespoons Pernod liqueur

1/2 cup half and half

Freshly grated Italian Parmesan cheese for serving

In a large (11 inch) pot or Dutch oven such as Le Creuset, heat the olive oil and butter over medium heat and add the fennel, leeks, and onions. Cut or break off the tough bottoms of the asparagus and discard. Cut off 8 (2 inch) tips from the asparagus and reserve. Slice the remaining stalks 1/2 inch thick crosswise and add them to the pot. Cook the vegetables for 20 minutes, stirring them occasionally, until very tender.

Add the rice to the vegetables, pour in the chicken stock, add the thyme, 2 teaspoons of salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper, and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the rice is very tender. Off the heat, stir in the basil and Pernod. Discard the thyme bundle.

Meanwhile, bring a small saucepan of water to a boil. Add the reserved asparagus tips, cook for 2 minutes, drain, and transfer to a bowl of ice water. Set aside.

Puree the soup with an immersion blender. (You can use a regular blender, but be careful not to over-fill it!) Stir in the half and half, taste for seasonings, and reheat over low heat. Ladle into soup bowls and garnish with julienned basil, Parmesan cheese, and a blanched asparagus tip.