Your boring tomato soup just got a serious, elegant, caramelized upgrade, just in time for fall.
I love fennel. Not sure what fennel is? Couldn’t pick it out in a line of produce? You’re apparently not alone.
When I check out at the grocery store with a bulb of fennel—and I mean every. single. time—I am met with a look of confusion from the cashier and a pause as the vegetable sits on the scale, waiting to be identified. Every now and then a brave soul will muster the courage to ask “..what is this?”
Fennel is sweet, with a surprising licorice taste and anise-like flavor. Unlike its cousin, the humble onion, fennel is also delicious raw. When it’s caramelized, the nutty flavors pull through and it adds a little “what’s in this?” to dishes. Like this tomato soup.
Every once in a while, I have a craving for a solid tomato soup that I can soak delicious bread in. As the temperatures begin to slowly, very slowly, drop, and by drop I mean below 85° here in Florida, I’ve been in the mood for comforting tomato soup.
This is not your super creamy tomato soup, although a touch of cream does round out the flavors and helps give it juuuust enough richness. This is more of your standard classic. And it’s super easy to pull together. Like weeknight easy.
Perfect to pair with grilled cheeses, paninis, or in this case, fresh baguettes with basil and provolone. An excuse to devour fresh bread topped with melty cheese? Count me in, tomato soup.
If you have an immersion blender, this is the perfect opportunity to use it. While I do have one on my Christmas list, I don’t have one in my kitchen just yet — so as you may be able to see in the photos, the caramelized onions and fennel stick out in texture from the base. I personally don’t mind the pieces on the soup, but I do think the blender would be a nice touch. It would thicken it up and make it more smooth and consistent.
I suppose you could pour it into a blender and then back into the pot, but that just sounds a little too overachiever for me. If I were entertaining someone other than Matt and myself, I might take that extra step.
This would be great to pack in a thermos for office lunches and road trips alike, and is the perfect companion to bread. But in bread’s defense, what isn’t?
Tomato Soup with Caramelized Onion
- 1 bulb fennel
- 1 onion
- splash-1/4 cup of heavy cream, to taste
- 24-28 oz of strained Italian tomatoes
- salt + pepper
- 3 tbsp butter*
- splash of white wine
- Thinly slice onion and fennel
- Heat butter in dutch oven over medium heat. When foaming, add onion and fennel
- Season with salt. Be generous!
- Stir often and let onion and fennel become browned and caramelized. To pull out the nuttiest flavor, cook them longer (~15 minutes) until they are darker in color. To stay milder in flavor, cook until they take on a subtle golden color. Taste along the way!
- Deglaze with white wine.
- Add strained tomatoes with equal parts water, along with a generous amount of salt. I usually just fill the container that the tomatoes were in with water and add that.
- Add pepper and bring heat down to a simmer.
- Cook and casually stir every now and then, making sure the bottom of the pot doesn’t burn, for about 30 minutes or so, or until flavors have melded. I am always tasting along the way and seasoning as needed!
- Add heavy cream, turn the heat off, and stir to combine.
- Using an immersion blender (lucky!) blend the soup.
- Serve with crusty, toasted, dippable bread. Optional but not really.
*I always use unsalted butter.