Quick Bites from Pender

Onion & Fennel Soup – Recipe

In Recipes on January 10, 2010 at 5:02 am


I made this soup for the first time a few days ago, after I came home from a particularly wet early morning walk with Koda.  It started, as many of my dishes do, as a classic — french onion soup.

After a quick check of the pantry and fridge, I began the adaptations  ( I dislike the word substitutions — it sounds more reactive than proactive…)  No beef/veal stock on hand, but I did have a lovely homemade brown chicken stock.  Also missing was some white bread and melting cheese — instead, the only cheese in the house was a soft blue, and the only bread a dense, European-style rye — ideas were already froming when I noticed the fennel — plan complete.



The onions are the most time consuming part of this simple recipe.  Julienne the onions, then get them on the stove while you prep the rest.

Onion & Fennel Soup

Yield:  4-6 servings

Onions, julienned 4 C 500 g (2 med. onions)
Butter or Olive Oil 2 T 30 g
Fennel, shaved ¼ C 40 g
White Wine ¼ C 60 g/ml
Garlic, minced 2 cloves
Chicken Stock 4 C 1 L

C=Cup                   L=Litre

T=Tablespoon   TT=to taste

In a medium saucepan, heat the butter or oil over medium heat until shimmering.  Add the onions, along with a generous pinch of salt.  Cook, stirring and scraping up the bottom occasionally, until the onions are deep, deep brown — 30 to 45 minutes.  Watch the pot carefully, and reduce the heat if necessary to keep the onions from scorching.  When the onions are deep brown, deglaze with the white wine.  Cook until the wine is almost dry, then add fennel and garlic.  Cook until fragrant, another 30 seconds.  Add the stock, increase the heat to med. high, and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat, and simmer soup until fennel is tender, about 20-30 minutes.  Season, garnish and serve.  (Tips below…)




  • Any type of stock will work here — veal or beef is used in a classic french onion soup.  If using vegetable stock, I would throw in a piece of kombu (seaweed) with the fennel to give the soup some extra body.  Remove kombu before serving.
  • Don’t have any white wine?  You can also use vermouth or sherry, or nothing!  Deglaze the pan using a bit of the stock, then add the remaining liquid.
  • If you prefer the more traditional garnish for this soup, then place a lightly toasted slice of baguette/sourdough on top of the soup in its serving bowl, top with grated cheese, and pop under the broiler until bubbling and singing.
  • As with most soups, this one gets better with age.  I prepared this soup, turned off the stove, and left the pot where it was until we were ready for lunch — about 90 minutes later.  A quick reheat and check for seasonings, and it was ready to go.  The extra time allowed the flavours to develop and blend.  I refrigerated the leftovers immediately after lunch.

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