Over a decade ago, I watched Mario Batali, on his show make an Italian soup that had fennel, garlic, and bread as the base. I cannot have bread, so I tried to make the soup by omiting the bread and adding some protein. This is what I came up with. I have shared the recipe with friends over the years that have really enjoyed it. This hearty and festive soup is irresistible on a cold night. It can feed a crowd or provide plenty of leftovers. If you want the bread, you could serve it on the side to perfectly round out your meal. The ingredients are fairly forgiving. See tips below for ways you can switch it up to accomodate what you have in your pantry.
4 tbsp olive oil
1 bulb fennel chopped into bite size chunks (If you do not have fennel, you may use 1 cup of chopped celery)
1 small to medium onion chopped into bite size chunks
3 medium carrots cut into bite sized slices
2-3 cloves Garlic sliced thin (you can use more if desired)
salt and/or pepper to taste
1 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes
1 large white, or about 3 small red potatoes cut into bite sized chunks OR 1/3 cup brown rice
4 cups chicken broth
4-5 cups water
1 can chick peas, rinsed and drained
1pkg. spicy Italian sausage cut lengthwise and then crosswise into bite size pieces
No nutrition information available
Over low to medium heat cook onions and fennel in olive oil-about 10 minutes
Add carrots and garlic and cook another 5 minutes. Add salt to taste.
Add tomato and simmer 20 minutes
While tomatoes are cooking you can brown sausage in a skillet, turning occasionally
to prevent burning. No extra fat required.
If using potato, add the potato during the last 5 minutes that you are cooking
Add broth and water, turn heat to high
If using rice add rice
Add chick peas and sausage
when soup begins to boil, turn heat down and simmer 30-40 minutes until rice is
done or potatoes are tender. Correct seasonings and serve.
You may garnish with fronds from the fennel bulb.