This is one of the freshest, tastiest and lightest soups you will ever eat. I found the original recipe on Epicurious but have made adjustments to suit my tastes; namely the addition of fennel seeds, garlic and fennel pollen to the soup, not pureeing the soup (the original calls for pureeing), and the alteration of some quantities. It is great served hot, or even at room temp on a hot summer's night. It is very satisfying because of its bold flavours but it does not weigh you down: I find it is what I always want to turn to when I need to restore my sense of virtue! The other wonderful thing about this soup is how quick and simple it is to make, and how little waste there is - you even use the fronds from the top of your fennel bulbs. If you are not familiar with fennel "pollen", it is simply the fine golden dust that is obtained by drying and then crumbling the delicate golden yellow flowers of the fennel plant. It costs a fair amount so I make my own by collecting flowers from wild fennel plants - the stuff grows almost everywhere here in Italy where I live. Fennel pollen adds amazing flavour and perfume to any dish in which you would use fennel seeds. Sprinkle it over soups, meats, or pastas and you will not be sorry! —flavia71
For the Soup:
fennel bulbs, finely chopped
large garlic clove, finely chopped
400 g tins Italian tomatoes, drained and chopped, and juices reserved
Heat the oil in heavy, large soup pot over medium heat. Add the chopped fennel bulbs and fennel seeds and sauté until tender but do not allow to brown (about 6 minutes).
Add the finely chopped garlic and sauté for 1 minute more.
Add the drained, chopped tomatoes and sauté for a further 5 minutes.
Add the reserved tomato juices, the chicken stock and lemon juice. Cover and simmer the soup for another 15 minutes.
If you want a smooth textured soup, at this point you can puree the soup in a blender in batches until smooth. I don't do this as I like my soup with texture. If you have decided to puree the soup, once done return it to the pan with as much or as little of its liquid as required to achieve the thickness you prefer.
Season with salt, pepper and fennel pollen to taste.
For the Gremolata
Mix all the ingredients together in a small bowl.
Bring the soup back to a simmer if serving hot.
Ladle the soup into bowls and top each with a generous spoonful of gremolata, stir through and serve with some crusty bread and a bowl of any remaining gremolata for those who would like to add more.