Fennel Cauliflower Soup with Fennel Frond Truffle Pesto
When I was growing up in Northern California, fennel grew abundantly. So much in fact that to me it was merely a weed. My friends and I used to dare each other to eat its fronds, wrinkling our noses if we didn’t like the taste of licorice, and grinning in joy if we did. It wasn’t until many years later that I was at a well known restaurant in San Francisco and came across fennel bulb on the menu. I almost did a double take! I had no idea that this silly weed was actually a vegetarian delicacy!
Now I love using it on my own menus, as it represents my childhood and transition into adulthood. It’s unique flavor adds a playful sophistication to a variety of dishes, and its fronds are a secret herb that no one can ever guess. This soup has become a staple for me at Spring and Summer yoga retreats as well as high end seated dinners. So here is my recipe for my Fennel Cauliflower Soup with Fennel Frond Truffle Pesto.
Fennel Cauliflower Soup
- 1 medium head of cauliflower
- 2 medium fennel bulbs with fronds
- 1 large onion
- 5 cloves garlic
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 cups vegan chicken flavored stock or homemade vegetable broth
- 1 cup full fat coconut milk
- 1 tablespoon sea salt and pepper to taste
Fennel Frond Truffle Pesto
- 3/4 cup fennel fronds
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon truffle oil
- Prep your cauliflower. Remove the outer leaves, and then separate it into four sections. Separate the core from the florets. Roughly chop the florets, and then thinly slice the core. Set aside.
- Prep your fennel. Cut off the fronds about two inches from the bulb and set aside, reserving for your pesto. Thinly slice the bulb, stem, and any fronds still attached.
- Prep your onion. Slice in half end to end, remove skin, and then thinly slice.
- Heat oil in a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Add the onion and fennel and sauté for 5 minutes, until soft and translucent, stirring occasionally. Stir in the garlic and continue to sauté for 1-2 more minutes, until fragrant.
- Add in the cauliflower, vegetable stock, coconut milk, and half of salt. Stir to combine. The vegetables should just barely be covered with the liquid Continue cooking until the mixture reaches a simmer. Then reduce heat to low and continue simmering for about 20-25 minutes, or until the cauliflower is tender.
- Make pesto by combining all ingredients in a blender or food processor. Set aside.
- Using either an immersion blender, or transferring the soup in batches to a traditional blender (be careful not to fill it very full when working with hot soups), puree the soup until smooth. Taste soup and add additional salt until salted to your liking. The amount of salt needed will vary by preference as well as the salt already in your vegetable stock.
- If soup is too thick add a bit more stock to thin it out. If it is too thick allow to simmer on low while uncovered for another fifteen minutes or more until it naturally thickens. Stir frequently.
- Serve in bowls and garnish with pesto and freshly ground pepper. Reserve extra pesto for later use.
- Optional: garnish with fennel frond and pan seared cauliflower florets.
Soup serves 8. Pesto makes 1 cup.