Soup in the Summer

June 24, 2009


For most parts of the country, soup in the summer may sound awful.  Unless it something cold like Gazpacho or Chilled Avocado Soup.  Here in Seattle, soup in the summer can be very welcome.  The June that you all have had on the East coast?  That’s what ours is usually like.  Long days, but long wet and gray days are not the kind of long days you long for.  Welcome to our Northwest world.  This year, we have had your kind of June and man! is it awesome!

Still, we don’t get the stifling heat that makes you think soup would be a bad thing.  Even on a warm day, the evening cools down enough to put on a sweater while eating dinner in the backyard.  I love that about Seattle.  People wonder how we can live in this climate and I wonder how people can live in a climate where you can’t go outside because it’s too hot.  To each his or her own.

If you are so inclined, this is a nice soup to make in warmer weather because it doesn’t have to be served hot.  It is just as lovely when served slightly warm.  Yes, you have to turn on your oven for a bit to make the ricotta dumplings, but you can do it in morning and let them rest until you are ready to serve dinner.  Because of the cheese triangles and the almonds in the soup, you really only need a nice salad to round out this meal.  I made this for my clients last night so I also included a Pissladière which I think went really well with the soup.

One Year Ago:  Turnip and Leek Gratin

Fennel and Almond Soup with Saffron and Ricotta Dumplings
Adapted from Vegetable Soups from Deborah Madison’s Kitchen
Makes 5-6 cups

One of the many nice things about this soup is that there is virtually no waste.  All the trimmings of the vegetables are used in the (very quick and simple) stock.

The Stock
2 cups chopped fennel stalks
Roots and 1 cup chopped paler leek greens
1 cup celery tips and leaves
1 bay leaf
Handful parsley stems
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

The Ricotta Dumplings
1 pound ricotta cheese (don’t use low fat)
Olive oil
1 tbsp. fennel or anise seeds

The Soup
1 large or 2 smaller fennel bulbs (about 1 pound), quartered and cored
2 tbsp. butter
2 leeks, white part only, quartered and chopped
1 celery rib, thinly sliced
2 tbsp. chopped parsley
1/2 cup almonds, blanched and finely ground
2 pinches saffron threads
1 cup, more or less, shelled or frozen peas
Finely minced fennel greens for garnish

1.  Preheat the oven to 350°F.

2.  Put the vegetable trimmings in a pot with 7 cups water, the bay leaf, the parsley, and 1/2 tsp. salt.  Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer, covered, for about 25 minutes.

3.  Press the ricotta into a 6-cup dish brushed with olive oil and sprinkle the fennel seeds over the top.  (DT: I used a Pyrex 8×8 inch pan.)  Bake until golden and firm, about 45 minutes.  Cut into triangles and set aside.  You can make the soup while it’s baking.

4.  Slice the fennel into pieces that will fit in a soupspoon.  Melt the butter in a soup pot and add the vegetables and parsley.  Season with a teaspoon of salt, toss them around to coat, and cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes.  Add the almonds and saffron and cook for several minutes.  Strain the stock.  You should have about 6 cups, or a little less.  Add the hot stock to the soup vegetables, bring it to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 20 minutes, or until the vegetables are soft but not mushy.  Add the peas during the last 3 or 4 minutes.  Taste for salt and season with pepper.

5.  Serve the soup in soup plates or small bowls.   Add 3 pieces of the baked ricotta to each bowl, sprinkle with the minced fennel greens, and serve.


  1. Looks like a soup you’ll eat in a restaurant. Beautiful pictures!

    Comment by Hélène — June 25, 2009 @ 5:22 am

  2. The dumplings look wonderful- and what a simple recipe for them! I like soup in the summer, I suppose because it’s “lighter” and all that. I don’t mind about the temperature, in fact I’m not really a fan of chilled soup. This looks lovely and very summery.

    Comment by Ele — June 25, 2009 @ 1:08 pm

  3. I (think) the sun is finally going to come out today in MA, but I will still be trying this soup! This looks really amazing and like nothing I have ever had before- which moves it right to the top of my list!

    Comment by fresh365 — June 25, 2009 @ 2:46 pm

  4. This soup looks amazing, but it’s the dumplings that have me at “wow!!!”.

    Comment by kickpleat — June 25, 2009 @ 3:57 pm

  5. I love this soup! Vegetable Soups from Deborah Madison’s Kitchen is one of my all-time favorite cookbooks.

    Comment by Hannah @ I Heart Kale — June 25, 2009 @ 4:56 pm

  6. Oh wow! what a luxurious soup! Those dumplings are callingmy name! I’m a huge soup fan, so I have it year-round, and if this one can be served just warm: perfect!

    Comment by Marta — June 25, 2009 @ 5:08 pm

  7. The soup sounds delicious, and I’m thinking of all kinds of uses for the ricotta dumplings. I love it when a recipe gets me thinking.

    Comment by lisaiscooking — June 25, 2009 @ 6:56 pm

  8. I love the idea of the ricotta dumplings in the soup!

    Comment by Ashley — June 26, 2009 @ 5:13 am

  9. This looks amazing! I love soup any time of year, and the fennel in this one has me won over.

    Comment by Eralda — June 27, 2009 @ 6:06 pm

Leave a comment