Saturday, 13 June 2009

roasted red pepper and fennel soup

you could track the state of my health by the number of times a soup recipe appears on the blog. every time i feel a bit under the weather, i seem to resort to making soups.

also, this was another exercise in frugality which worked beautifully. when you buy a bulb of fennel, it comes with foot-long fronds attached to it - i never know what to do with them but it seems criminal to waste them. this time, i used some to roast a salmon fillet on - i literally put a bed of fennel fronds at the bottom of a roasting tin, with a splash of water, some olive oil and seasoning, put the salmon on top, covered the whole thing with foil and roasted it for 20 or so minutes. it looked great but i am not convinced the fennel imparted a detectable flavour to the fish.

the rest i thought i'd make into a soup.

when i say a soup, this is little more than the veg cooked and liquidised. there is no great skill involved in soup-making but somehow the end result is always more than the sum of its parts. the only thing i think is important is that the stock is good - i am not sure i'd bother making it with a cube. i had some homemade stuff from a couple of carcasses i'd been saving in the freezer.

you could add a splash of pernod to accentuate the aniseedy flavour but i'm not sure anyone keeps a bottle of pernod at home these days. you could also finish it with sour cream or creme fraiche which i didn't bother doing.

for two

1-2 red peppers (i only had one but would use two next time)
1 fennel bulb, fronds and all, chopped up (save a little for garnish)
olive oil
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
500 ml chicken stock

first, grill the pepper. stick it under a very hot grill until the skin blackens on all sides - keep turning it. when it's done, put it in a bowl and cover with clingfilm for a few minutes. this makes it easier to peel.

in a pan, fry the fennel with the fennel seeds and some salt and pepper for 5 minutes or so. if using pernod, add a splash now and let it evaporate. add the stock and simmer for 15 or so minutes. right at the end, add the peeled and chopped red pepper. taste and adjust the seasoning.

liquidise with a hand held blender or a food processor until very smooth. you might need to pass it through a sieve if don't like 'bits' in your soup - personally, i don't mind. stir in the sour cream if using and decorate with some reserved fennel fronds.

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