makes six servings
1 large fennel bulb (about 1½ pounds)
2 ounces double-smoked slab bacon, cut into ¼-inch cubes
1 tablespoon butter
2 large onions, coarsely chopped
1 large potato, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
¼ teaspoon aniseed
1 bay leaf
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
4 cups chicken broth
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ cup heavy cream
Remove, rinse, and dry the feathery fennel tops, chop them moderately fine, and reserve ½ cup of them. Discard any discolored fennel stalks, coarsely chop the remaining stalks, and set aside.
In a large pot, fry the bacon over moderate heat till crisp and drain on paper towels. Melt the butter in the bacon fat, add the onion, chopped fennel stalks, potato, fennel seeds, aniseed, bay leaf, and nutmeg and stir about 2 minutes. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and steam about 15 minutes. Add the broth, bring to a low simmer, cover, and cook till the vegetables are very soft, about 1½ hours. Remove and discard the bay leaf. Cool the mixture, then, in batches, purée it in a food processor.
Return the mixture to the pot, add the salt, pepper, and cream, and bring to a low simmer. Stir in the fennel tops and bacon, then ladle the hot soup into soup plates or bowls.
bacon recipe courtesy of: The Bacon Cookbook: More than 150 Recipes from Around the World for Everyone's Favorite Food by James Villas. Wiley, 2007