Hearty Fennel Soup with Sausage and Gouda Croutons
- ACTIVE: 40 MIN
- TOTAL TIME: 1 HR 25 MIN
- SERVINGS: 6
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 3/4 pound sweet Italian sausage links
- 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
- 3 medium fennel bulbs—halved, cored and thinly sliced
- 2 thyme sprigs
- 6 cups chicken stock or low-sodium broth
- 1 medium zucchini, thinly sliced
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- Six 3/4-inch-thick baguette slices, lightly toasted
- 6 ounces medium-aged Gouda cheese, such as Prima Donna, finely shredded
- Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy saucepan. Add the sausage links and cook them over moderate heat until golden brown and just cooked through, about 10 minutes. Transfer the sausage links to a plate.
- Add the onion to the saucepan and cook over moderate heat until softened, about 4 minutes. Add the fennel and thyme and cook, stirring, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the stock and simmer over moderately low heat until the fennel is very tender, about 45 minutes. Add the zucchini, cover and simmer over moderate heat until barely tender, about 2 minutes. Discard the thyme sprigs.
- Working in 2 batches, puree the soup in a food processor. Return the soup to the saucepan. Thinly slice the sausage and add to the soup. Season with salt and pepper and keep warm.
- Preheat the oven to 500°. Arrange the baguette toasts on a baking sheet and top them with half of the cheese. Bake for 1 minute, or until the cheese melts. Ladle the soup into shallow bowls and top with the toasts. Sprinkle the remaining cheese on the soup and serve.
This soup has so many flavorssweet fennel, spiced sausage, nutty Goudathat it needs a fruity wine with up-front acidity, like a New World Sauvignon Blanc from South Africa.