Every Spring, one of the first things to come up in my garden is the wild fennel. Since I foolishly did not plant it in containers, this evasive but delicious fern is plentiful at The Greenporter. It is great in salads and soups and makes a lovely garnish. I also like it in a tomato-fennel bisque, a great soup for any season. I serve it hot with grilled cheese or chilled with a garnish of paprika-spiced almonds and some cheese sticks.
This recipe calls for fresh tomatoes, fresh fennel and shallots. On the North Fork or, Zone 6, (for you avid gardeners), you’ll know that tomatoes aren’t the best during most times of the year so canned may even be better. However, you will get a great deal on hot house tomatoes or imperfect tomatoes, you won’t know the difference once blended in this soup so buy them if they’re on sale. For the grilled cheese we’ll try some creamy smoked gouda.
Servings: Serves 4
2 Tbsp. of extra virgin olive oil from Vines & Branches in Greenport
2 chopped shallots
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 small fennel bulb (or half of a large one), chopped or one cup of diced fennel stems
2 cups of your canned summer tomatoes or fresh
1 teaspoon of smoked Spanish Paprika (Pimenton), available at The Market in Greenport
1 cup garden stock or chicken stock
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 crispy fresh French baguette, pan de mie/brioche or your favorite bread
Slice Smoked Gouda, available at The Village Cheese Shop in Mattituck
Slice and brush bread with EVOO, place cheese on bread
Press till cheese is melted
In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. When hot, add the onion, celery, garlic and fennel. Cook until the vegetables are tender, about 4 minutes.