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Vegetable Soup with Fennel and Feta

My sister-in-law Jill and I tend to like the same foods, including dishes with lots of vegetables. When she recommended a soup recipe that showcases the magical powers of fennel, an ingredient new to me, I was delighted with the results.

Vegetable Soup with Fennel and Feta

See my notes about the difference between my choices and Jill’s. Also, with the right ingredients, the soup can be gluten-free or vegan. The original recipe is not online, but can be found on page 111 in one of my favorite cookbooks, Simple Vegetarian Pleasures by Jeanne Lemlin.

The Basics:

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil ** (I used extra virgin, while Jill chose regular.)
  • 2 onions, very finely diced
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 14.5 can diced organic tomatoes with juice (Jill substituted 20 ounces.)
  • 8 cups low sodium gluten-free chicken stock (Jill used 6 cups chicken stock. The original recipe called for 6 cups vegetable stock.)
  • 1 ½ cups thinly sliced fennel bulb
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper, a good amount
  • 1/3 cup orzo (Jill omitted this.)
  • 1 cup chopped fresh parsley, thick stems discarded
  • Feta cheese
Fennel, without tasting like licorice, imparts a unique flavor to this soup.

Fennel imparts a unique flavor to this soup without making it taste like licorice.

Heat the oil over medium heat and add onions, garlic and red pepper. Cook until onions are tender, about 10 minutes, stirring frequently. *

Add wine and boil until reduced in half.

Add tomatoes, stock, fennel bulb, oregano, salt and pepper. Cook 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add parsley and orzo. Cook ten more minutes.

Top each bowl with a spoonful of cheese.

* Watch onions carefully. Even dark brown onions are bitter.

** Let personal preference dictate which olive oil you use.

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