To celebrate the New Year, I jumped out of bed and entered the kitchen with a burning need to chop and prep and blend and create. It was an absolute blast and a great way to begin the New Year.
Comfort foods have been on my mind. Plus, what goes better with a steaming and slightly spicy bowl of soup than a grilled cheese sandwich? Roasting vegetables brings a great depth of flavor to your soup (and a great smell to the house!) even if you end up pureeing the soup for serving.
Of course, I could not just go for a straight tomato soup – I had to add some fresh fennel and my secret AMPLIFY FLAVOR ingredient: Spicy Fennel Sea Salt from Pollen Ranch! Fennel Pollen is a natural add, especially for vegetable soups to elevate and enrich the veggie flavors. The Fennel Pollen blends and Sea Salt blend offerings from Pollen Ranch are simply incredible and truly part of the Essential Pantry.
I have to give a complete hat tip to The Boys Market in Delray Beach for the most amazing tomatoes and veggies – they always have THE BEST selection!
The roasting and cook time on this recipe is one that should be undertaken on a lazy Sunday and the development of flavors at the end is completely worth it!
My side of Gruyere grilled cheese was made with Udi’s gluten free whole wheat bread - it is a wonderful bread for toasting and grilling and really, anything that involves eating.
What is the comfort food that YOU are making this week?
- 3 lbs whole fresh tomatoes (FRESH!)
- 1 fennel bulb
- 1 large yellow onion
- 1 leek
- 2 carrots
- 2 stalks celery
- 4 cloves garlic
- 3 Tbsp olive oil
- 6 cups stock (Veggie stock for Meatless Monday!)
- 2 tsp ground cumin
- 2 tsp Spicy Fennel Salt from Pollen Ranch
- 2 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
- Quarter the fennel bulb and remove the stem/base end.
- Cut the celery in half, peel the carrots and cut the ends off. Cut the carrots in half.
- Peel the onion, cut the ends off and cut into quarters.
- Rinse the leek and chop the end and the dark green top. Slice lengthwise in half.
- Peel the garlic cloves.
- Toss the fennel, celery, carrots, onion and garlic with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and place on a sheet pan.
- Cut the cores from the tomatoes. and cut the tomatoes in half. Toss tomatoes with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Place on a sheet pan.
- Put both pans 325 degree oven and roast for 1:20 to 1:45.
- Put all the vegetables into a large soup pot and add 6 cups of chicken or vegetable stock. Add the cumin, spicy fennel salt, smoked paprika, cayenne and salt to taste.
- Bring to a simmer and cook until the tomatoes break apart. Allow firmer vegetables to soften.
- Puree with an immersion blender or allow to cool and puree in a regular blender.
- Optional – (I like the chunky bits) Strain the soup through a fine mesh strainer to remove the skins, seeds and fibrous parts of the fennel.
- Return the soup to the pot and reheat if you used a blender.
- Salt and Pepper to taste before serving.