I am a tomato soup addict. It’s one of those things that you kind of never get over once you grow from childhood to adulthood. I’m comparing this to things like twinkies and capri-sun that were once so magical and once eaten after the age of 18 somehow is completely repulsive. Tomato soup is not one of those items. I could eat it all day everyday. I actually still enjoy Campbell’s tomato soup with sandwiches made from kraft singles, which is a little embarrassing to confess. I have to say, however, absolutely nothing beats the made-from-scratch version of tomato soup.
So creamy, tangy, and so comforting. Just the way a good soup should be.
I’ve tried many tomato soup recipes over the years. Like 10-15 years ago it was very trendy for many restaurants to have a tomato basil bisque on the menu. I’m pleased that while people haven’t given up on tomato soup, they have given up constantly including heavy cream and basil in their recipes. It just gets a little boring.
This soup is anything but boring. It doesn’t even need a hit of butter or heavy cream to improve the flavor like many tomato soups require.
The trick? Including fennel and absinthe.
Yes. You read that correctly. (Read: you are not already high on absinthe just by the mere thought of using it in your family’s dinner rotation).
The idea behind the absinthe is to knock up the fennel/ anise flavor in this recipe and in my opinion takes this dish over the top. Who’s with me?
(Disclaimer: yes I am aware at how ridiculous expensive Pernod absinthe is… and yes, I think it’s worth it. However, I would also imagine a good anise-liqueur substitute would work equally well, but I have not tested this myself).
So how can you make it so perfect and orange-y without any heavy cream you might ask? It’s just from using onion, fennel, and garlic in addition to the tomato. When you puree it all together it creates this perfect emulsion of vegetable flavors that is so rich on its own it’d probably be ruined by the addition of cream.
But feel free to drizzle it with fennel-infused olive oil, which I did. You will be happy with the results.
This soup is actually incredibly easy to prepare. It takes about an hour of cook time, but this just ensures the vegetables and tomatoes are soft and nicely stewed before pureeing. The results are equivalent to (if not better than) upscale restaurant-style tomato soup.
Tomato-Fennel Soup with Absinthe
Garnish soup with fennel oil drizzle, fried fennel seeds, and fennel fronds.