Tomato fennel soup

  • 7 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 medium fennel bulbs, cleaned and thinly sliced, fronds chopped and reserved
  • 1 large onion, halved, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • ½ teaspoon chile powder
  • 3 tablespoons Pernod (optional)
  • 2 28-ounce packages or cans chopped tomatoes packed in purée (or as much fresh tomatoes, peeled)
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper

Melt 6 tablespoons butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add fennel, onion and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Toss to combine. Reduce heat to medium-low. Partly cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are very tender, about 20 minutes. Stir in garlic and chile powder; cook 1 minute. Stir in Pernod, if using, and cook until almost completely evaporated, about 3 minutes.

Pour in tomatoes, 1 1/2 cups water and the stock. Bring to a simmer and cook gently, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Season with 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and the black pepper. Purée soup in batches using a blender or immersion blender until smooth.

Transfer soup back to pot over medium heat; simmer until slightly thickened, 5 to 10 minutes more. Scrape down sides and bottom of pot occasionally. Remove from heat and serve, garnishing with reserved fronds.