Friday, June 14, 2013

Asparagus and Roasted Fennel Soup

Asparagus is abundant right now, and this is a great way to use it if you need a change from simply sautéing or grilling it.  The soup is rich and creamy, without the addition of heavy cream, and it could be a perfect summer dinner or first course.

Creamy Asparagus and Roasted Fennel Soup
from the Rittenhouse Hotel, Philadelphia


2 small fennel bulbs (1.5 lbs)
1/4 small onion
2 garlic cloves
1 tsp olive oil
1.5 lbs asparagus
6-7 cups of low fat chicken broth
1/2 cup long grain rice
1/2 cup skim milk
1 tsp dried dill


Preheat oven to 400F.  Trim fennel stalks flush with bulbs and discard.  Halve bulbs through root ends and discard cores.  Cut bulbs into 1/4 inch thick slices.  Thinly slice onion and garlic.  In a large roasting pan toss together fennel, onion, garlic, oil, salt and pepper.  Roast mixture in the middle of the oven for about 20-30 minutes.  

Optional Step:  Diagonally cut off asparagus tips and reserve.  Trim stalks and cut into 1 inch long pieces.  In a steamer, set over boiling water, steam tips, until crisp, about 2 minutes.  Rinse tips under cold water to stop cooking, drain.  Reserve for a garnish.  If you omit this step, use the entire stalk for the recipe.  

In a 5 qt pot bring fennel mixture, remaining asparagus stalks, broth, and rice to a boil and simmer, stirring occasionally for about 30 minutes.  Stir in milk and dill.  Let mixture cool slightly and then puree in a blender or food processor.  Reheat soup over low heat, and season with salt and pepper.  

Garnish soup with asparagus tips (optional), serves 4.