Soup you cook in the oven? Try this roasted mushroom and fennel soup

Roasting the mushrooms and fennel helps to make the soup smooth, velvety and delicious

Roasted mushroom and fennel soup

Roasted mushroom and fennel soup

 

Fennel is one of my favourite vegetables, and each week I buy a few for adding raw to salads and slaws. Now that it’s getting slightly cooler I’m roasting them. Roasted fennel is a completely different vegetable. It becomes sweet and crisp at the edges, the texture and taste is divine. Roast in a tray, then drizzle with a little cream and scatter with bread crumbs and grated gouda or parmesan, then place under the grill. Or add the roasted fennel wedges to barley or orzo with a splash of olive oil and lemon juice, with plenty of parsley or tarragon. Add a handful of cherry tomatoes and plump black olives or a splash of sticky balsamic vinegar to the fennel before roasting. It’s the perfect easy side dish for serving with fish or chicken. Another way to roast the fennel would be to slice it thickly and lay it on a roasting tray under a chicken. This way it will be cooked in all of the chicken juices and result in a very indulgent side dish. Again just season with salt and little lemon juice for freshness.

I have been making mushroom soup for so many years, and I always find myself standing over the cooker, moving and watching the mushrooms in the pan. By roasting them all on a tray, the flavour is condensed and all of those delicious juices are released. Both the mushrooms and fennel benefit from not being simmered in a pot of stock, draining them of flavour. It produces a rich, velvety smooth soup that tastes amazing with crusty bread. Thyme is the perfect partner with mushroom soup and gives a real depth of flavour. Tarragon, with it’s sweet anise taste, works very well with the fennel too.

Add a little less stock and this soup makes a really good sauce for pasta. Each weekend I usually cook a full chicken. I used to roast a big free-range bird then make stock later with the carcass, but now I add the raw chicken to my biggest stock pot along with celery, onion and herbs. I bring the pot of water to the boil on the hob, then place the lid on and leave the chicken to simmer in the oven for up to two hours. The result will be a perfectly cooked chicken with meat that falls off the bone, with no dryness. The water will transform into a rich stock, ready for leaving cool and storing in the fridge or freezer until needed. With access to such delicious stock I’ve started to use it more. I cook tortellini and other pasta in a little stock then serve it in the soupy broth, so no flavour escapes. Scatter with parmesan and flat leaf parsley then serve with a wedge of lemon.

Roasted mushroom and fennel soup

Serves 6-8

800g mushrooms

3 fennel bulbs

3 cloves of garlic

2 tbsp olive oil

1 litre stock

1 tbsp thyme leaves

Salt & black pepper

To serve

Crème fraîche

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Halve the mushrooms and place on a tray. Flatten the garlic cloves with the back of a knife to bruise slightly, and place on a second tray. Cut the fennel bulbs in half and add to the garlic. Drizzle both trays of vegetables with the olive oil. Roast the vegetables for 25-30 minutes until golden at the edges. Leave the vegetables to cool slightly, then blitz in a blender with the stock and thyme leaves. Taste for seasoning. This soup can take plenty of salt and pepper. Reheat and serve with a dollop of crème fraîche and fresh thyme leaves.

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