Photograph by Alix Wall
This very simple and rich-tasting soup can be made with no dairy products.
Fennel is well-known as a seasoning, particularly in seed form. It is less well known as a vegetable: a light green bulb that is crunchy, juicy, and deeply, though subtly, flavored.
Preparation time: about 40 minute
Yield: about 6 servings
1 tablespoon butter or oil
4 cups thinly sliced onions
2 teaspoons salt
4 medium potatoes (average fist-sized), not necessarily peeled, and sliced into thin pieces 1 to 2 inches long
1 cup freshly minced fennel bulb
½ teaspoon caraway seeds
4 cups water
White pepper, to taste
Optional toppings: sour cream, thinned (by beating with a little whisk in a little bowl), the feathery tops of the fennel, well minced
1) Melt the butter (or heat the oil) in a kettle or Dutch oven. Add the onions and 1 teaspoon salt. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, for about 15 to 20 minutes, or until the onions are very, very soft and lightly browned.
2) Add the potatoes, another ½ teaspoon of salt, the minced fennel bulb and the caraway seeds. Sauté over medium heat for another 5 minutes, then add the water. Bring to a boil, then partially cover and simmer until the potatoes are tender (5 to 10 minutes).
3) Taste to adjust salt; add white pepper. Serve hot, topped with a decorative swirl of thinned sour cream and/or minced feathery fennel tops.