I like to cook. Sometimes my daughter likes to eat.

Friday, April 07, 2006

What to do with lots of carrots and fennel

It's early spring and our CSA box is filled with carrots and fennel, as well as gorgeous green garlic. R. is not especially fond of fennel, and I am not a fan of carrots as a vegetable side dish. But when we were in Paris last Fall (and there is no way to write that without sounding pretentious), MZ was served a fennel and carrot mousseline, scented with herbes de Provence, that we all swooned for.

Our days of baby food past us, I'm not enthused about breaking out the food mill. So how about fennel carrot soup? The whole time I was making it, I was sure it would be a disaster. I didn't feel I had enough taste memory to know where I was going. But when R. tasted it, he was enthusiastic, as was Tante Judy, who hasn't been easy to satisfy these days. The recipe is indeed a keeper, made so I'm sure by the wonderfully fresh ingredients and the addition of sausage and cream. If you can't get a hold of
Fatted Calf sausages, look for a really good fresh (not smoked) garlic sausage with a fine grind. Do not use a Whole Foods sausage, they are always too coarse and over-seasoned.

This makes a lot of soup, because I had a lot of vegetables, easily enough for dinner for four with a light butter lettuce salad, some crusty whole wheat bread, and a bottle of Sancerre. And maybe some fresh raspberries for dessert.

2 T butter
1 T olive oil
1 cup thinly sliced green garlic, white and light green parts only
1 leek, cleaned, quartered and thinly sliced
1.5 teaspoons salt
2 cups carrots, a flavorful farmers market variety if possible, cut in small dice or thin quarters
2 cups fennel, cut in small dice
1.5 teaspoons crumbled herbes de Provence
1/2 cup crisp, dry white wine (not oaky)
2 cups low-salt chicken broth
3 cups water
2 links of Fatted Calf Toulouse sausage, or another good fresh garlic sausage
1/2 cup heavy cream

Melt the butter with the olive oil in a large, heavy pot over medium heat. Add the green garlic, leeks and carrots. Sprinkle with salt and cover the pot, allowing them to stew for five minutes. Do not brown. Add the fennel and herbes de Provence and stew a few minutes longer. Turn the heat to high and add the wine. Allow the wine to cook almost completely away, then add the broth and water. When the soup comes to a simmer, cover and turn down the heat. Cook until the vegetables are quite soft, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, add a bit of olive oil to a nonstick pan over medium heat. Remove the sausage from its casing and crumble into the pan. Brown, but do not cook completely. Set aside to drain in a colander or on paper towels, then chop into small pieces.

When the vegetables are soft, add the sausage and simmer for 10 minutes. Add water if necessary to achieve a thin consistency. Remove 1.5 cups of broth and solids and puree. Return to pan with the cream. Simmer for 3-5 minutes, until the soup loses the raw cream flavor, adjust salt and serve.

Riff references: Dinner at Les Fables de la Fontaine


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