Waste not, want not: A phrase I heard while growing up, handed down from Granny Gibbon to my mother, and on to us, just as it was in households around the country. It meant that if you did not waste things, food in particular, that you would not be lacking. How appropriate in these times when we check our bins and cannot believe the amount of rubbish accumulating from everyday living.
We use fennel every week in the CABOTS Smoked Mackerel Pate we make here in Westport, and last week there was some left over. Never one to waste anything, I thought I would take it down to the house to make some soup or something out of it for a lunch. It was all a bit haphazard (surprise, surprise), but the end result was tasty, looked well and quite a new pleasure, so I am sharing the recipe with you. Hope I can remember the quantities!
Roasted fennel soup
What you need
> 400g root fennel, washed and cleaned
> 2 medium white onions
> 2 carrots
> 1 litre veg stock at half-strength dilution
> 150-200ml cream
>Knob of butter
What you do
Chop your fennel root into chunky pieces and place on a medium-thick oven tray, drizzle liberally with oil and season. Place in a pre-heated fan oven at 180°c. I cooked the fennel for only 15 mins and then let cool well before using it for the soup. I thought the roasting may take longer, but actually a mild roast produced a lovely rich flavour, and as always, it’s easy to over-do these things. In a separate saucepan, sauté your peeled white onions with a mixture of oil and some butter melted in for about four minutes. Add a pinch of salt.
Peel and chop your carrots into small pieces, add and stir into the onions for another three mins. Then make up your veg stock. I use boiling water from the kettle and a normal tea mug to liquify the stock – I find the plastic jugs sometime gets greasy and is more difficult to wash than a china mug. I just take out a chunk of veg stock/bouillon from the packet it’s sold in and mix it well in the mug, add it to the saucepan, and top it up with however much more water is needed. In this case we’re aiming for a litre.
Empty in the oven tray of fennel, making sure to scrape all the tasty goodness in. Turn up the heat to medium-high to bring the soup to a slow boil, and then simmer for ten minutes, while stirring. Pour in your cream. With a stick blender, whizz the mixture together, bring to the boil once more for a minute, then cover and set aside, allowing the soup to rest for ten minutes.
While some soups suit a broth consistency, these flavours and textures really suit being whizzed up together. Serve with crusty bread or sourdough bread with butter, and some cheddar cheese slices on the side.