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Release date: 12/28/2004.

You'll find this recipe in it, From AN EXALTATION OF SOUPS,
copyright © 2004
by Patricia Solley,
Published by Three Rivers Press.

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Hearty Saffron-Rich Tomato-Fennel Soup

I really like this soup. It's chunky and full of interesting textures--very pure--and with a knockout combination of flavors. The pureness of the tomatoes really serves up the unusual combination of licorice (the fennel and basil) and saffron. Don't skimp on the latter--it's sensational. Serve hot to 6 as a first course or as a luncheon soup.

  • 4 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 yellow onions, chopped evenly into a medium dice
  • 2 fennel bulbs, chopped evenly into a medium dice (and reserving the stalk "feathers" for the garnish)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1 teaspoon saffron, crumbled and macerated in 1 Tablespoon boiling water, until it completely gives up its flavor
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, finely shredded
  • 2 quarts canned tomatoes, chopped well, with their juice
  • 2 cups water
  • salt and pepper to taste

Garnish: 1/4-1/2 cup shredded basil and fennel leaves, stirred in just before serving

In a large pot, heat the 4 Tablespoons of oil then saute the chopped onions, fennel, and garlic over medium low heat for about 10 minutes. Pour in the wine and macerated saffron, then stir in the basil. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for a minute or two. Add the chopped tomatoes, their juice, and the water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for about 30 minutes, partially covered.

When ready to serve, salt and pepper to taste, then stir in the basil and fennel feathers. Ladle into bowls and have at.