Fennel and Orange Peel Soup Recipe

Soupe de Fenouil aux Ecorces d'Orange

[Fennel and Orange Peel Soup]

Introducing… the latest brainchild of my soup kick! I was on the bus home from work a few days ago (you know, line 67, my food thought lab?), thinking about the soup I would make for dinner. I had half a mind to make some kind of winter squash soup, and was toying with the idea of adding candied orange peel to make it more interesting. I had just picked up one of my favorite cooking magazines in France, Saveurs (which I can’t believe doesn’t even have a website, I mean really : remind me what century this is?), and was idly leafing through it, stomach grumbling (inevitable reaction when looking at food pics at 7:30pm), when I spotted the section on fennel.

My love of fennel is somewhat paradoxical. I normally hate anything aniseed (ooh, “anything aniseed“! That would sound nice if I didn’t hate anything aniseed!) and I dislike the smell of raw fennel, but once it’s thoroughly cooked and tender, it takes on a sweet and caramelized flavor I adore. So I just avoid breathing through my nose as I chop, and wait for the heat to work its magic.

Which is why, upon looking at this article, I thought : “Fennel soup! Now, that would be great with orange peel!”. And so, after a quick hop to my supermarket’s produce aisle, I got home and whipped this up.

I was very happy with the result : it is infused with subtle flavors, and the cooked and pureed fennel gives it a lovely texture. The leftovers were even better the next day!

Soupe de Fenouil aux Ecorces d’Orange

- three bulbs of fennel
- two onions
- about 15 strips of candied orange peel
- 2 tbsp orange marmelade
- 3 cups vegetable stock
- 1 tbsp coriander seeds
- 1 tbsp brown sugar or molasses
- olive oil
- salt, pepper

(Serves 4.)

Peel and chop the onions. Heat up some olive oil in a large saucepan and cook the onions on medium heat for a few minutes. Wash the fennel bulbs, cut off the stalks (reserve the little sprigs), remove the hearts and chop. Dice the orange peel.

When the onions are softened and slightly translucent, add the fennel, orange peel, coriander seeds, salt and pepper, and the stock. Cover, bring to a simmer and let cook for twenty to twenty-five minutes, until the fennel is thoroughly cooked.

Transfer all or part of the solids into a food processor, puree and return to the saucepan. Stir over low heat, adding the orange marmelade and brown sugar. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Serve in bowls, topped with a candied orange strip and a little sprig fennel if you feel all fancy and garnish-ish.

You can also soft-boil an egg, peel it and break it open in the bowl of soup, for a lovely blend of tastes and a complete meal.

  • http://radio.weblogs.com/0129838/ Donna in Harrisburg

    try this link:
    http://www.saveur.com/
    and enjoy!!

  • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

    Donna – Thanks for the link! The French Saveurs doesn’t appear to be affiliated with the American Saveur, though. But this sure sounds like a wealth of food knowledge!

  • http://www.aspoonfulofsugar.net/blog/ Angela

    This soup sounds interesting Clotilde – I too, hate aniseed as a flavour but I’ve never had caramelised fennel so I’ll have to explore that. Such a pretty picture too!

  • http://www.makunas.com/aliveone Jenny

    I also hate aniseed but love fennel.

    I actually love raw fennel, too…we often slice it thinly and toss it with a bit of lemon juice, oil, salt and pepper, then serve it over mache with some parmesan cheese. Maybe next time I make that salad I’ll stir a bit of marmalade into the dressing.

    The soup sounds delicious, Clotilde.

  • http://gastroblog.com Jackie D

    Another aniseed hater, which is why I’ve never tried fennel. It is a testament to your talents, Clotilde, that this recipe makes me think I should perhaps review this policy!

  • http://www.halfass.com scott partee

    I love Italian food and, outside of the artichoke, fennel is the national vegetable.

    Many people feel the same way as do you about fennel: hate anis seed, but love fennel once it has been transformed by the flame into something truly perfect.

    Just last summer, I grilled some fennel that I had marinated in olive oil briefly and then sprinkled with sea salt and freshly-cracked pepper. The heat was HIGH, and caramelization quickly formed as the vegetable softened. A gourmand friend of mine, who is rather widely-regarded as harshly critical among our circle of friends, told me that he never knew that fennel could be good. He, too, was trapped in the world in which fennel had not transcended its anis roots to become something wonderful.

    Your recipe truly seems to capture fennel’s great quality and build on it with some very fennel-friendly ingredients: the orange, the coriander. I can’t wait to try it!

  • http://greengabbro.net/ yami

    Oooh… fennel is on the grocery list now. Perhaps this is a silly question, but is there a reason for using the candied orange peel and marmalade, rather than just peeling an orange?

  • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

    Angela, Jenny and Jackie – Amazing how many of us hate the flavor of aniseed! I would indeed be very flattered if this recipe reconciles you with fennel!

    Scott – Marinated and grilled fennel sounds delicious, I’ll definitely give it a go. Hope you like this soup when you try it!

    Yami – No question is ever silly! :) I used orange peel and marmelade because that’s what I had, and also because candied orange peel is edible (it’s actually orange peel cooked in syrup for quite a while). The marmelade provides sweetness too, as well as a very interesting slightly bitter edge. If you want to use fresh (not candied) orange peel, I would let it infuse the soup, but remove it before eating if the taste and texture are unpleasant. The soup may also need a bit more sugar to compensate. Hope that helps, do let me know if you try it!

  • http://radio.weblogs.com/0129838/ Donna in Harrisburg

    I did not know there was a French Saveurs… which, naturally, has me wildly curious. One more reason to return to France…

    (American “Saveur”, incidentally, is the pinnacle in food journalism, in my opinion.)

  • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

    Donna – I really need to get my hands on an issue of Saveur, then! For some reason, I’ve never bought one, even when I lived in the US… I’ll check the international newstands here, see what I find!

  • http://greengabbro.net/ yami

    Eating it now! I made a 2/3 recipe, with the peel of one medium orange and about 1/4 of the flesh. It took two tablespoons of sugar before the taste was okay, and I added a third for my sweet tooth. I think the thing to do is just zest the orange; picking out the peel was a hassle, and I wasn’t all that interested in the bitter edge from the pith. =)

    Also, a generous scoop of chopped cilantro is transformative tasty magic with this.

  • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

    Yami – Thank you so much for reporting back! I’m glad you tried it. Oooh yes, I hadn’t thought of the bitter pith problem… And I’m sure the cilantro was indeed a great addition, will do that next time!

  • http://todrownarose.clarence.com todrownarose

    hey, your site is lovely. I’ve been into soups for a few years now – one of the best things in winter – and I definitely recommend a blender: it makes your life so much easier. on weekdays, I go for very simple recipes – zucchini, onion and nutmeg; pumpkin and fresh ginger; lentils, onion and curry, or rosemary – and everybody loves them. and, oh – I’ve never heard of the fennel as Italy’s national vegetable (I would have thought of the tomato instead – or melanzane?), but maybe I live in the wrong part of the stivale…

  • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

    Todrownarose – You know, with all the lobbying from you guys, I think I’m going to have to cave in and get myself one of those super magic hand blender! What else do you do with yours?

  • http://todrownarose.clarence.com rose

    I find the blender very handy to do creamy things like hummus and -whateverisitcalled, its relative made with aubergines? And salsa verde, too. This way I’m able to choose the right recipient for the process,which is good because I usually work on small quantities. Oh, unfortunately my blender doesn’t have a blade to whip things up, but I’m said it does it nicely.

  • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

    Rose – OK, I’m sold! :) And you probably mean baba ganoush (“caviar d’aubergine” in French)? I love that too!

  • http://www.gottula.com slgottula

    I don’t know if you read any older posts but, you must be an absolute genius to think about this on your way home on the bus. Maybe I need to move somewhere with public transportation!

  • http://www.lemon-chiffon.org Lillian

    Didn’t have candied orange peel or marmalade, but I did have fig jelly and dried figs lying around, so I substituted them. Turned the soup a rather interesting violet-brown color. Absolutely delicious–especially with the egg. Thanks for the amazing recipe. :)

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