Tomato Fennel Soup

When I was a junior in college, I went with my friend Jolie to meet Lisa in Amsterdam. Lisa has been studying in Paris for the semester, and Jolie and I teamed up to save money so we could spend ten days with her in Europe. We flew to Amsterdam on Christmas and Lisa came and met us the next day. We were all so happy to be together, and Amsterdam was singing with the holiday spirit. It was just magical. Warm, yellow light spilled onto the cobbled streets from the cozy, narrow buildings. People were ice-skating, eating little pancakes, riding bicycles past the canals. It was like a scene out of a story book...
One afternoon, the three of us wandered over to the Jordaan district of the city and found ourselves in a cafe called Letting. 
I really never remember the names of restaurants and cafes when I'm traveling, but I'll never forget Letting. It was wonderful. Three years later, I I still remember that the walls were painted orange, and that the waitress was so nice to us...and I remember what we ate.  We all had soup and different sandwiches. I remember Jolie had goat cheese and honey on soft bread.... And I still remember mine;  a pesto and cheese toasty. The shining star of the meal, however, was the soup. Warm, comforting, inviting tomato and fennel soup. It was so simple, yet I'd certainly never had anything like it before...
I love fennel. I feel like I sort of rediscovered my love for it after making that salmon salad last weekend. It's just such a strong flavor. And I love the smell when cutting it! When I decided to recreate this dish, the ingredients pretty much came naturally. It tasted exactly how I remember it...

Tomato Fennel Soup

Butter (or oil)
1 large onion, diced
1 large clove of garlic, minced
2 carrots, diced
3 ribs of celery, diced
1 large fennel bulb, chopped
1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
1 28 oz can or box of tomatoes- chopped will be a bit easier but it's not necessary

Heat a large pot with the butter. When using butter (which I always tend to use...in everything...), I add a splash of sunflower oil to keep it from burning. 
Add the onions and garlic. Cook until nice and soft, then add the carrots, celery and fennel. Cook until everything is soft and aromatic.
Add the broth, stir, and then add the tomatoes.  
Using a hand blender, puree everything until it is smooth. Mine still had a few chunks, which I liked, but if you want it smoother, go ahead and keep blending. If you haven't got a hand blender,  put it in a food processor or blender in batches.  
Season liberally with salt and pepper. 
I garnished mine with some rice crackers...I'm sure croutons would also be delightful...

Smakelijk eten!

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