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Tomato-Fennel Soup with Rosemary Toasts

Tomato-Fennel Soup with Rosemary Toasts
The strong anise flavor of fennel is mellowed and sweetened beautifully when you cook it. Tomatoes add a nice acidic touch and the rosemary toasts add a flavorful crunch to this soup that is equally good served hot or chilled.

Overview:

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Yield: 8 servings

Ingredients:

  • 16 (1/2-inch thick slices) French bread
  • 2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 large fennel bulb, (about 2 pounds), stalks and core removed, diced about 6 cups (reserve fronds for garnish)
  • 2 cups chopped onion
  • 6 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 can (28 ounces) diced tomatoes in juice
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 Tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup chopped fennel fronds

Instructions:

  1. To make the toasts, preheat oven to 375 F.
  2. Arrange bread on a large rimmed baking pan.
  3. Lightly brush both sides of bread with olive oil.
  4. Sprinkle bread with rosemary
  5. Bake 15 to 20 minutes or until golden around edges and crisp.
  6. Remove from oven and set aside.
  7. To make the soup, heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat.
  8. Add fennel, onion and garlic; cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 12 minutes.
  9. Add tomatoes, broth and tomato paste and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
  10. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, until vegetables are very tender, about 10 minutes.
  11. Puree soup in pot using a hand held immersion blender.
  12. Stir in butter until melted and add salt and pepper to taste.
  13. Stir in fennel fronds.
  14. Ladle into soup bowls and top each bowl with 2 toasts.

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