Damian and I like to start our warm-weather weekends right, with our ritual trip to the Saturday morning Farmer’s Market. We have this ongoing challenge (it begins anew each annual market cycle) where every week, along with all our produce staples, we choose one unique. We try to choose something special and in-season, but it can range from as elementary as boysenberries to as alien as fiddleheads. It’s an awesome game that keeps us excited and trying new things. So far this year we’ve done mustard greens (new favorite!), asparagus, and . . . fennel bulb.
Truth be told I’m not a huge fan of black licorice and its kin, but fennel is the mellowest of the family and really quite nice. And here it adds an interesting layer to this old stand-by soup. Special thanks to S for inspiring this dish!
~8 red potatoes
1 fennel bulb
3 celery ribs
1 yellow onion
2-4 of cloves garlic, diced
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cups green split peas
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon thyme
1 tablespoon basil
8 cups veggie broth or water, more as needed
salt and pepper to taste
Cube the potatoes and spread them in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake at about 350º for about 15 minutes, or until they’ve just developed a bit of a ‘skin’.
In the meantime, rough chop all the veggies. Sauté the fennel, mirepoix, garlic, and olive oil in the bottom of a soup pan, until the onions are glassy. Transfer to a food processor or blender and add 2 cups of water/veggie broth. Blend until smooth.
Pour the blended mixture back into the soup pot over medium heat. Add the split peas, spices, bay leaf, and potatoes. Cover with the remaining 6 cups of liquid and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer until split peas are very tender (30-40 minutes). Add more liquid if needed.