Budget Menu & Dirt Cheap Recipes General Recipes Tomato Fennel Soup

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      Tomato Fennel Soup
      2 lb ripe red tomatoes
      2 fennel bulbs
      1 yellow onion, cut into 8 pieces
      2 tbs extra-virgin olive oil
      fine sea salt
      freshly ground black pepper
      3 to 4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
      2 bay leaves
      Polenta Croutons:
      18-oz tube prepared polenta, preferably organic
      1 1/2 tbs extra-virgin olive oil
      Preheat the oven to 400°.
      To make the soup, hull the tomatoes, halve them crosswise, and remove the seeds.

      Place on half of a rimmed baking sheet, cut-sides up. Trim the stalks and fronds from the fennel bulbs, reserving some of the fronds for garnish. Quarter each fennel bulb, remove the core, and add to the baking sheet along with the onion pieces.

      Drizzle the tomatoes with 1 tbs of the olive oil.
      Drizzle the fennel and onion with the remaining 1 tbs of olive oil, then toss to coat evenly. Season the vegetables with salt and pepper. Roast, turning the onion and fennel occasionally, until the vegetables are very tender and caramelized, about 40 min.

      Set aside for about 10 min to cool slightly.
      Working in batches if necessary, transfer the roasted vegetables and their pan juices to a food processor or blender. Add 3 cups of the broth and puree the vegetables until very smooth. Add more broth to the soup if needed to achieve the desired consistency.
      Transfer the soup to a heavy pot.

      Add the bay leaves, season with 1/2 tsp salt and pepper to taste, then bring the soup to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until the flavors come together, about 15 min.
      Meanwhile, make the polenta croutons. Remove the polenta from the packaging, trim the ends, and cut it crosswise into eight 1/2-in-thick slices.

      Cut the slices into 1/2-in cubes.
      In a large nonstick frying pan over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil until it is nearly smoking. Carefully add the polenta cubes and spread them into a single, even layer—they will sputter and pop as they cook. If the pan is not large enough to spread the polenta cubes into a single layer, use two pans or work in batches.

      Cook, without turning, until a golden brown crust forms on the bottom, 5 to 7 min. Using two forks, gently turn the croutons over to brown the opposite side. Cook for another 4 to 5 min, until the croutons are golden brown and crispy on two sides.

      To serve, ladle the soup into bowls. Garnish each with some of the reserved fennel fronds. Top with some of the polenta croutons just before serving—they will lose their crispness if they sit in the soup too long.

      Serve immediately. Serves 6
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Budget Menu & Dirt Cheap Recipes General Recipes Tomato Fennel Soup