My friend Christine is a fennel freak (not to be confused with fenugreek), and I daresay I am too. All summer long, I eat it raw or cooked, by itself or in combination, as in this soup. In Indian restaurants, you’ll often find the seeds in a little bowl as you are leaving—like parsley, they are nature’s great breath freshener. Christine makes the soup using small, young, tender fennel bulbs. Being in Provence, she adds the local brousse cheese, but I have made it in New York using fresh ricotta with comparable results.
5 cups vegetable stock (or water)
1 pound fennel bulbs, cleaned and chopped
4 ounces ricotta
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
Salt and freshly ground pepper
4 tablespoons minced parsley
Pinch of paprika
Yield: 4 servings
Bring the stock to a boil. Add the fennel pieces, and simmer for 20 minutes. Put the fennel and stock through a blender or vegetable mill using a blade with smaller holes. Let cool, and refrigerate for 2 hours. Add the ricotta, oil and lemon juice to the chilled soup. Mix well, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve in soup dishes, garnishing with the parsley and paprika.