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Culinary S.O.S.

Give Me a Big Bowl of Fennel

April 17, 2002|CINDY DORN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

DEAR SOS: When I visited a restaurant called Rustique in Aspen, Colo., I had a delicious fennel soup. I hope you can help get me the recipe.

MARILYN ATHEY

Los Angeles

DEAR MARILYN: The restaurant's chef, Ryan Hardy, says keep an eye on the fennel as it cooks; if it cooks at too high a heat it will scorch, and that will make your soup gray and bitter.

Fennel Soup

Active Work Time: 30 minutes * Total Preparation Time: 1 hour

About 12 shallots, sliced

3 cloves garlic, sliced

Grated zest of 1 orange

3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Salt, pepper

About 3 pounds fennel bulbs, core removed, thinly sliced

3 ounces brandy, Cognac, or Grand Marnier

1 1/2 quarts chicken stock

1 quart water

Cook the shallots, garlic and orange zest in the olive oil in a large, shallow saucepan over medium-high heat until the shallots are lightly browned, 10 to 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Add the fennel, reduce the heat to medium and slowly cook the fennel until light golden brown, about 20 minutes. Season again with salt and pepper.

Add the brandy and cook, scraping up any brown bits, until the liquid evaporates. Add the chicken stock and water. Simmer over low heat until the liquid is reduced by half.

Transfer the soup to a blender and puree on high speed. Strain the soup through a mesh sieve and season to taste. The soup should be silky smooth and rich. If you prefer a thicker soup, transfer it to a clean saucepan and cook the soup over medium heat, reducing the liquid further, until it reaches the desired texture.

6 servings. Each serving: 269 calories; 143 mg sodium; 0 cholesterol; 23 grams fat; 3 grams saturated fat; 11 grams carbohydrates; 3 grams protein; 3.77 grams fiber.

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