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Italian Home Cooking
by Julia Della Croce

Making vegetable soup without added stocks of any kind delivers the true essence of natural flavors. This is how you can do it without insipid results. If you like the flavors of carrot and fennel, that's what you'll get here, unadulterated. If you have a food processor with a slicing attachment, you can slice the vegetables in no time at all rather than cutting them by hand. The last step—passing the pureed soup through a food mill or sieve—produces a smooth, silky texture.
Serves 4 to 6


    • 1 head fresh fennel
    • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter or extra-virgin olive oil, or a combination
    • 1 onion, sliced
    • 1½ pounds carrots, scraped and sliced into thin rounds
    • 8 cups water
    • 2 teaspoons sea salt
    • freshly ground white pepper


1. Trim the tough, dark stalks off the fennel and split the bulb in half lengthwise. Cut out the tough inner core and cut the white stalks into thin slices. Chop and reserve the tender lighter green fronds.

2. In a soup kettle, warm the butter or olive oil, or a mixture of both, if using. Stir in the sliced fennel, onion, and carrots and saute over medium heat until the vegetables are softened and aromatic, about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent browning or sticking. Add the water and salt and simmer until the vegetables are completely soft, about 40 minutes. Use an immersion blender to thoroughly puree the mixture. Alternatively, allow it to cool somewhat and puree it in ajar blender two cups at a time.

3. For a silky texture, pass the soup through a food mill fitted with an attachment with the smallest holes. Alternatively, press the soup through a fine sieve. If you prefer a chunkier soup, serve it as is. Check for salt and add pepper to taste. Sprinkle with the chopped fennel fronds and serve.

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