Dana Treat – Treat Yourself

Soup in the Summer

Posted June 24, 2009

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.

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