Sunday, December 16, 2012

Tomato-Fennel Soup with Parmesan and Croutons: Easy Comfort for Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammie) Sundays

The January 2013 issue of Real Simple magazine had "10 Ideas for Soup" in their Quick Takes column. The picture of tomato soup with croutons and big shavings of Parmesan cheese on top caught my eye right off. (I am a sucker for good garnishing!) I changed up their recipe sketch a good bit, adding extra ingredients like fennel, garlic and dried basil, and added some bread to the soup base to make it even thicker. A great festive soup for an easy holiday lunch or dinner.

Tomato-Fennel Soup with Parmesan and Croutons
Inspired by Real Simple, January 2013
(Serves 4)

1 Tbsp olive oil (+ more for croutons)
1 large onion, chopped
1 bulb fennel, chopped, reserve come of the fronds
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried basil
1 (28 oz) can whole peeled Italian tomatoes
4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
2 Tbsp tomato paste
6 thick slices of good bread, divided
salt and black pepper to taste
shaved Parmesan cheese to garnish

Heat oil in a soup or stock pot over medium heat. Add onions and fennel and cook, stirring occasionally about 5 minutes--until softened. Add garlic, oregano and basil, and cook another 2 minutes. 

Meanwhile cube the slices of thickly cut bread. Take out about 1 cup and set aside. Toss remaining cubes with olive oil and dried Italian spices if desired. Either bake at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes, turning once or brown in a large pan on the stove until brown and crispy. 

To the soup pot, add tomatoes with their juices, vegetable broth, tomato paste and about one cup of the bread cubes and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and let soup simmer for 20 minutes. Puree using an immersion blender or carefully in a blender in small batches. Taste for seasoning.  

Pour in pureed soup bowls and top with 1/4 of the breadcrumbs, several large Parmesan shavings and a little chopped fennel frond. Enjoy!

Notes/Results: Excellent! This soup has great flavor and the bites with crouton and Parmesan are so good. The fennel isn't pronounced--it just adds another layer of flavor to the bowl. Two recommendations I would make--buy great canned tomatoes--a good Italian brand is nice, and make your own croutons so they are fresh and crispy rather than hard/dry. I used a roasted garlic bread, baked locally that was perfect. This soup goes together quickly and easily in about 30 minutes total--making it great and satisfying with a salad on a busy day. I will make it again.

Let's check out the Souper Sundays kitchen for a few good friends and their fabulous recipes.

Elizabeth of The Law Student's Cookbook made this spicy Jalapeno-Ginger Butternut Soup.  She says, "I love butternut squash. I love soup. The combination of the two is the perfect blend. This soup is perfect. I had it with some garlic bread that I had in the freezer. It was the perfect meal for a cold night. Apparently I forgot to add the water from the original recipe in, so my soup was definitely thicker than it would have been. While it may have made it last longer to have added the water, I liked the consistency a lot the way it was."

 Tigerfish of Teczcape - An Escape to Food is here with a creamy Coconut Curry Pumpkin Soup and says, "It usually happens during the fall/winter season, cooking a soup themed around pumpkin/squash...  The urge towards pumpkin soup gets stronger when a good quality can of pumpkin puree (Farmers Market Organic Pumpkin) is so easily available. And not that I want to exclaim in such a cheapskate manner...oh well, and when that can of pumpkin comes so cheap! For just a dollar!"

Joanne of Eats Well With Others has two entries--a soup this week and a sandwich down below. The soup is a hearty Indian-Spiced Roasted Squash Soup. Joanne says, "Butternut squash soup that is so pumpkin pie spice- and brown sugar-infused that you're fairly certain you should top it with whipped cream and a dusting of graham cracker crumbs and call it "after dinner snack number one". Not that that sounds bad, but truth be told...I'd rather just have pie. I much prefer my squash soups to be unmistakably savory, with layers of heat and spice, and a dollop of a little something with a hint of sweet on top. That being said, this curry-infused version is pretty much the perfect catch.   Dare I say, if I found myself under the mistletoe with a bowl of it...I might even throw all propriety out the window and lick the damn thing clean."

Janet of The Taste Space has our only salad this week, her Baby Quinoa (Kaniwa) Bowl with Cranberry Jicama Salsa and Sweet Squash Puree. About baby quinoa, Janet says, "Due to its small nature, the texture is quite different. It reminded me of the pebbly nature of amaranth without its gluey consistency. I ended up tossing it in a festive bowl with a simple cranberry jicama salsa and a chili-spiked butternut squash gravy/sauce.  The seemingly odd combination of ingredients worked really well… and awfully pretty, too, I may add."

And one very luscious sandwich this week from Joanne at Eats Well With Others, this Apple, Leek and Gruyere Grilled Cheese. Joanne says, "Grilled cheese. Is. Timeless. I love it stuffed with American cheese and tomatoes (classic).  I love it stuffed with straight up cheddar (also classic).  AND I love this more adult version that I've created, which is stuffed with caramelized leeks, apples and gruyere. The leeks become almost buttery in the way of caramelized onions, which is complimented perfectly by the tart apples and the nutty melty heavenly cheese."

Thanks to everyone who joined in this week. If you have a soup, salad or sandwich that you would like to share, just click on the Souper Sundays logo on my side bar for all of the details.

Have a happy, healthy week!


  1. www.teczcape.blogspot.comDecember 17, 2012 at 9:13 AM

    I like how tomato-ey your soup looks! Thanks for the round up!

  2. Lovely soups this week! I keep winter has come but it hasn't yet... so I keep up with the salads. :)

  3. I've been using soup to help me get through all the holiday desserts without having to buy new clothing so I'll definitely be checking out that issue! And mmm tomato soup. Comfort in a bowl.

  4. A bowl of soup would hit the spot right now. It's freezing here, 36 F this morning!


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