Tomato Fennel Soup

Cider food pairings tomato soup

Can you ever have enough tomato soup recipes? On those cold, rainy winter days nothing satisfies me like tomato soup and grilled cheese. Well, this recipe and pairing takes it to a new level. The toast and cheese are on top of the soup and the soup has texture. The fennel in this soup is used in three forms, and the depth of flavor that comes from the three keeps changing with each bite. When we made this soup and tasted it with the cider, we came up with two options. Chunky or smooth; bold or subtle, this recipe has it all.

Yield: 6 servings

Serve with Tieton Blend or Yakima Valley Dry Hopped Cider

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium yellow onion

2 medium fennel bulbs, diced, reserving ¼ cup of the fronds

1 tablespoon fennel seed

2 cloves garlic, minced

3/4 cup dry white wine

3 15oz cans peeled plum tomatoes, crushed by hand or diced

1/2 organic lemon, thinly sliced and seeds removed

Salt to taste

Heat olive oil over medium heat in a medium, non-reactive stock pot or dutch oven. Add diced fennel and onions. Cook until very soft and lightly caramelized, 10-15 minutes.

Add fennel seed and garlic. Cook for a few minutes more, without browning garlic.

Add wine to deglaze pan. Simmer for a couple of minutes to cook off the strong wine flavor.

Add crushed tomatoes and lemon slices. Simmer over low heat until soup is hot and flavors come together, about 10 minutes. Do not let the soup thicken or caramelize.

Remove lemon slices (if desired) and serve. For a smoother soup, divide the soup in half and use a blender or immersion blender to puree half of the soup, and then combine with the other half. Serve hot, garnished with fennel fronds.

Blue Cheese Toasts

1/3 baguette cut on the diagonal into 1/3-inch slices

Olive oil, for brushing

Coarse salt and Freshly-ground black pepper

4 ounces good blue cheese, cut into thin slices

Heat oven to 400.

Using a pastry brush, lightly coat both sides of each slice of bread with olive oil. Sprinkle both sides of bread with salt and pepper. Place on a sheet pan and toast in the oven until light golden brown.

Cool slightly then top each toast with a slice of blue cheese. Place 1 blue cheese toast in each bowl of hot soup and serve immediately.

Options for Serving

For a bolder flavor, serve with the Yakima Valley Dry Hopped. The blue cheese will bring out the honey notes in the cider and the cider will emphasize the earthiness of the cheese.

For a lighter, more subtle flavor, omit the blue cheese toast and serve with Tieton Blend Cider.