Tomato Soup with Roasted Fennel and Chickpeas

I love community supported agriculture (CSA). For a couple of dollars each week, I get fresh, local produce that is in season, and I support my local economy. It also forces me to diversify my cooking and to be creative. For example, this past week we received savoy cabbage, kale, a fennel bulb, spinach, lettuce, carrots, and one lonely beet. The savoy cabbage and carrots were destined for Asian Rotisserie Chicken Salad (a recipe from http://www.CookSmarts.com). The spinach and lettuce are destined for green smoothies. There are numerous options for the kale. But what to do with fennel and a beet?

Fennel and a beet
What do you do with a fennel bulb and one beet?

I searched through my pantry for inspiration and came up with this idea for a soup made with the fennel, the beet, the kale, and a couple of pantry staples.

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium beet
  • 1 fennel bulb, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 can (15.5 oz) chickpeas, drained
  •  3 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 teaspoons Balsamic vinegar
  • 1 (32oz) carton low sodium chicken stock (vegetable stock would work also)
  • 1/2 lime, zested and juiced
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon Red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 bunch of kale, chopped
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

Preheat an oven to 425 degrees. Trim any stalk from the beet. Coat the beet with olive oil and season with salt and pepper (about 1/8 teaspoon of each). Wrap the beet in aluminum foil and put it in the oven. The beet should roast for 45 minutes to an hour, which is plenty of time to make the rest of the soup.

Toss the chopped fennel and the diced onion with two teaspoons of olive oil. Spread the fennel and onions evenly on a jellyroll pan or cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and roast for 12 minutes. Stir the fennel and onion mixture and roast for another 5 minutes. Stir the vegetable mixture again and add the chickpeas. Roast the fennel, onions, and chickpeas for 10 minutes.Roasting the fennel like this really helps mellow its flavor. Remove the pan with the fennel, onions, and chickpeas from the oven, but let the beet continue to roast.

While the beet roasts, heat a tablespoon of butter and 1/2 teaspoon of olive oil together in a 6-quart dutch oven over medium heat. Once the butter melts, add in the garlic and cook for 3 minutes, stirring frequently. The garlic should be a golden brown, but not burnt. Add in the dried chili flakes (you can add more if you prefer a spicier soup). Cook for an additional minute, then stir in the crushed tomatoes. Add in the balsamic vinegar. Let the tomato mixture cook for 3 minutes, then gradually stir in the chicken stock. Add in the lime zest and lime juice, the dried oregano, and the dried basil. The lime zest and juice adds a brightness to the soup that enhances the flavors of the other ingredients.

Add the roasted vegetables and chickpeas to the soup. Turn the soup down to low heat and let it simmer while the beet roasts. Once the beet has finished roasting, remove it from the oven and let it cool 10 minutes. Once cool, peel the outer skin from the beet, chop the beet, and add the chopped beet to the soup.

As a quick snack, I stole a slice of beet and put it on a Melba toast with a hunk of Mizithra cheese. Not a bad little snack to enjoy while the soup cooks.

Beet and Mizithra
A quick bite of beet and Mizithra on toast

Return the soup to medium heat and add the chopped kale. Season with salt and pepper to taste (I added about 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/8 teaspoon of pepper).

Tomato soup with roasted fennel and chickpeas
Tomato soup with roasted fennel and chickpeas

Once the kale has wilted into the soup, it is ready to serve.

A bowl of soup full of CSA vegetables
A bowl of soup full of CSA vegetables
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