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The Lighter Side

Take One Bulb Fennel, Raise It to the 3rd Power

September 18, 2002|DONNA DEANE | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Sometimes a low-fat vegetable soup made with little fat or cream lacks flavor. But try sauteing the vegetables before adding them to the soup pot. You'll wind up with a full-bodied soup--one you'd swear was fattening.

It's important when cooking light to use just a little oil for sauteing. In this recipe, nonstick cooking spray takes the place of some of the oil.

Boost the soup's flavor, too, by choosing the right vegetables. Add leek and fennel, both strong in flavor, to the carrot, celery and onion.

A combination of chicken broth and water also adds flavor, but you can make this soup vegetarian by using vegetable broth instead.

For a final touch, a few teaspoons of an anise-flavored liqueur at the end of cooking bring out the anise flavor of the soup.

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Fennel Soup

Active Work Time: 25 minutes * Total Preparation Time: 1 hour

Nonstick cooking spray

1 tablespoon oil

1 leek, chopped

1 cup chopped onion

1 carrot, diced

1 stalk celery, diced

1 (1 1/4-pound) fennel bulb, diced

4 cups chicken broth

2 cups water

2 red potatoes, peeled and diced (about 1 pound)

1 bay leaf

1 tablespoon chopped fennel fronds

2 teaspoons anise-flavored liqueur, such as Pernod

Spray a large saucepot with nonstick cooking spray. Heat the saucepot over medium heat, then add the oil. Add the leek, onion, carrot, celery and fennel. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes. Stir in the chicken broth, water, potatoes and bay leaf. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer until the vegetables are tender, 30 minutes.

Remove the bay leaf. Puree half of the soup and return it to the saucepot. Stir in the liqueur. Ladle the soup into serving bowls and sprinkle the top with the chopped fennel.

8 cups. Each cup: 65 calories; 77 mg sodium; 0 cholesterol; 2 grams fat; 0 saturated fat; 9 grams carbohydrates; 2 grams protein; 2.71 grams fiber.

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