Red Pepper and Fennel Soup
- SERVINGS: 8- 10
Spicy fennel adds an edge to this smooth, roasted sweet red pepper soup.
- 6 large red bell peppers
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 8 medium carrots, coarsely chopped
- 2 medium fennel bulbs—halved, cored and coarsely chopped, leafy tops reserved
- 2 medium leeks, white and tender green, coarsely chopped
- 1 small Spanish onion, coarsely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 2 tablespoons Pernod (optional)
- 4 fresh thyme sprigs
- 1 teaspoon fennel seed
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh basil
- 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- Roast the bell peppers directly over a gas flame or under the broiler, turning, until charred. Transfer to a paper bag and let steam for 15 minutes. Peel the peppers, discarding the cores, ribs and seeds; coarsely chop the peppers.
- Heat the olive oil in a large non-reactive saucepan. Add the carrots, fennel, leeks, onion and garlic and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are softened but not browned, about 8 minutes. Add the peppers, white wine, Pernod, thyme, fennel seeds and 4 cups of water and season with salt and pepper. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer until the vegetables are soft, about 40 minutes.
- Transfer the soup to a blender and blend until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in the basil and parsley and thin with a little water if the soup is thick. Serve the soup warm, at room temperature or chilled, garnished with the leafy fennel tops
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