1 white onion
1 stalk celery
4 garlic cloves
2 large fennel bulbs, outer layers discarded
3 tablespoons olive oil
3/4 teaspoon thyme
1/2 teaspoon oregano
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup Pernod or Sambuca
1/2 pound Russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 (1 pound) can peeled Italian tomatoes, chopped and juices resevred
5 cups Vegetable or Chicken Stock
Serves 6 to 8
Cut the onion, carrot, velery, garlic and 1 of the fennel bulbs into chunks. Transfer to food processor and process until very finely chopped, but not smooth. Set aside.
Heat the olive oil in a small stockpot or Dutch oven set on high heat until sizzling, about 2 minutes. Add the chopped vegetables, the thyme, oregano, basil, bay leaf, salt and pepper and cook for 3 minutes, until the onion is soft. Stir in the Pernod or Sambuca and cook for 45 seconds. Add the potatoes, the tomatoes and their juices and the stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer with the lid slightly ajar until the potatoes are falling apart, about 20-30 minutes.
Process the soup in several batches in a food processor or blender until smooth. Return to the pot and reheat.
Finely chop the remaining fennel bulb and the fennel leaves.
To serve, ladle the soup into shallow soup bowls and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon each of the chopped fennel bulbs and leaves.
Wine Suggestion: Semillion