Tomato Fennel Soup

3 Fennel bulbs (about 2 lbs)
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large yellow union, coarsely chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 can (35 oz each) Italian plum tomatoes
1/2 cup Pernod or Sambuca (or any licorice liqueur)
2 cups vegetable broth or chicken broth


  1. Cut the tops from the fennel bulbs and reserve the leafy tops. Coarsely chop 2 of the white bulbs. Melt 1 cup butter in a large pan over low heat. Add chopped fennel, onion and 4 of the garlic cloves and cook until limp, about 15 minutes. Season with the salt and pepper to taste.
  2. Add the tomatoes with the liquid and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes
  3. Process the vegetable mixture in small batches in a food processor or blender .
  4. Finely chop the remaining fennel bulb. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a small saucepan over medium heart. Add fennel and sauté in the butter with the remaining 2 cloves of garlic for 5 minutes.
  5. Chop the leafy tops of fennel. ( I don’t use the all tops, only a few sprigs of leaves) Add the sautéed fennel, leafy tops, Pernod, and the vegetable broth to the puree. Simmer until heated through. about 5 minutes. Serve immediately or refrigerate. Sprinkle steaming bowls of the soup with grated fontina.

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