Creamy Asparagus and Roasted Fennel Soup
from the Rittenhouse Hotel, Philadelphia
2 small fennel bulbs (1.5 lbs)
1/4 small onion
2 garlic cloves
1 tsp olive oil
1.5 lbs asparagus
6-7 cups of low fat chicken broth
1/2 cup long grain rice
1/2 cup skim milk
1 tsp dried dill
Preheat oven to 400F. Trim fennel stalks flush with bulbs and discard. Halve bulbs through root ends and discard cores. Cut bulbs into 1/4 inch thick slices. Thinly slice onion and garlic. In a large roasting pan toss together fennel, onion, garlic, oil, salt and pepper. Roast mixture in the middle of the oven for about 20-30 minutes.
Optional Step: Diagonally cut off asparagus tips and reserve. Trim stalks and cut into 1 inch long pieces. In a steamer, set over boiling water, steam tips, until crisp, about 2 minutes. Rinse tips under cold water to stop cooking, drain. Reserve for a garnish. If you omit this step, use the entire stalk for the recipe.
In a 5 qt pot bring fennel mixture, remaining asparagus stalks, broth, and rice to a boil and simmer, stirring occasionally for about 30 minutes. Stir in milk and dill. Let mixture cool slightly and then puree in a blender or food processor. Reheat soup over low heat, and season with salt and pepper.
Garnish soup with asparagus tips (optional), serves 4.