A homemade tomato and fennel soup supper that is fast, velvety without using cream and makes just enough for two. Pair with melty grilled cheese sandwiches - American cheese please - dipped in ketchup (at least for me) and you have a delicious comfort food supper for two.
Recipe Inspiration |
Dad's after church signature lunch
Making tomato soup brings back memories of Sunday lunch after church. My mother, a Family and Youth director later Methodist Pastor, worked on Sunday’s which left Dad in charge of lunch for my brother and me.
Dad loved tomato soup, or really anything to do with tomatoes. Growing up on a dairy farm in Clatonia, Nebraska with 6 siblings, my dad created his version of a garden-fresh tomato soup using tomatoes and milk from the farm. Both ingredients were always on hand in abundance. . Later, the tomatoes came from our sun-drenched garden
My Mom on the other hand does not like tomato soup. So, this is a favorite when it is just Dad, Doug and me.
It is bitter sweet to write this recipe as I lost my father unexpectedly in 2021. I am sharing this recipe with the Our Table 4 2 community and dedicating it to dad.
Dad, I miss you every day but have a smile on my face and a heart warmed with memories every time I make and serve this delicious, updated tomato and fennel soup.
Recipe Details | Tomato and Fennel Soup with Grilled Cheese for Two
This soup is so much better than opening a can but just about as easy! Start by quickly sauteing fennel, onion and garlic in unsalted butter. Then add canned, whole, peeled tomatoes, a little brown sugar to balance the tomato’s acidity, and 1 cup of chicken or vegetable. At the very end add Pernod, a zesty cooking ingredient.
What is Pernod?
The oldest anise liqueur in France, Pernod is made from distillates of star anise, fennel and 14 other botanicals such as coriander and mint. This distilled spirit that has been enjoyed in France for nearly 200 years as an aperitif and cooking ingredient.
Making creamy tomato and fennel soup without the cream.
Though cream is often used to add body to tomato soup, it mutes the bright tomato flavor. Reaching for the blender, I find I can achieve the same velvety texture without the cream.
The perfect soup companion – a grilled cheese sandwich
For ultra-creamy grilled cheese, use rich American cheese and brush melted butter on the bread for easier and better coverage than spreading the slices with softened butter.
Cook the sandwiches in a preheated skillet over medium-low heat, flipping them once, to yield golden-brown, crispy sandwiches.
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Cooking for Two? Make Ahead and Freeze!
I love to make a big pot of Tomato and Fennel soup to freeze for a simple supper later in the week. Make ahead as the flavor gets better a day or two after sitting in the refrigerator.
This any-season soup uses canned tomatoes – so you don’t have to wait for tomato season to enjoy.
24 ounce glass jars are the perfect freezing container. They are tight sealing to avoid freezer burn and make it easy to identify what is in the clear jar, unlike flat containers or plastic freezer bags. I really do hate rooting around in the freezer trying to remember what is in which container and how long it has been in there.
So, don’t forget to label the lid with contents and date. This soup freezes well up to 3 months.
A few things to be mindful of when freezing soup
Avoid overfilling or underfilling the container.
Resist the temptation to fill the container to the brim!
Liquids expand when they freeze, so if you fill the container to the top, you risk the soup breaking through the container. On the other hand, underfilling the container, leaves more air inside and the potential for freezer burn.
Do this: Leave about an inch of space between the soup and the container’s lid. That is plenty of expansion room while limiting air contact.
Defrosting and reheating the soup.
When it’s a “simple soup night”, defrost the soup during the day in the refrigerator, then empty into a sauce pan and warm gently over low stove heat until it begins to simmer.
Do this: While the soup is reheating – make your grilled cheese and within 10 minutes you have a dinner my Dad would love to serve.
Lastly, if you make the Tomato and Fennel Soup with Grilled Cheese for Two, be sure to leave a comment and give this recipe a rating!
Above all, I love to hear from you and always do my best to respond to each and every comment. And of course, if you do make this recipe, don’t forget to tag me on Instagram. @Ourtable4_2 or #OurTable42. Looking through all the photos is a daily highlight!
Tomato and Fennel Soup with Grilled Cheese for Two
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Tomato and Fennel Soup
- 1 large fennel bulb about 1 lb - coarsely chop bulbs
- ¼ cup unsalted butter
- ½ large yellow onion or one small yellow onion, coarsely chopped
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1 28 oz canned whole tomatoes
- 1 cup vegetable broth or chicken broth
- 2 tablespoon packed light brown sugar
- ¼ cup Pernod
- salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- Sprig of fresh fennel for garnish
Grilled Cheese Sandwich
- 4 slices hearty white sandwich bread
- 2 tablespoon unsalted butter ,melted
- 4 slices deli American Cheese 4 ounces
- For this recipe, I prefer the creamy texture and smooth melting of American cheese, but you can substitute cheddar or Gruyere cheese if desired. Also you can use a conventional skillet here.
Tomato and Fennel Soup
- Cut tops from the fennel bulbs. Coarsely chop bulbs. In a large saucepan, melt butter. Saute fennel, onion and garlic over low heat until softened, 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add tomatoes and their juice, broth, and sugar, breaking up tomatoes with wooden spoon. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Remove from heat.
- FOR A BLENDER: Transfer soup to a blender jar and process until smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes. Return soup to saucepan and add Pernod. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
- FOR AN IMMERSION BLENDER: Place blender directly in saucepan so blades are submerged (you may need to tilt saucepan slightly) and blend until smooth and creamy, about 3 minutes, scraping down sides of saucepan as needed. Add Pernod and reheat. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Canned tomatoes vary in flavor, which means you will need to adjust the seasoning of the soup a bit at the end. Taste and, if necessary, add a little more sugar to balance out the acidity of the tomatoes, butter for richness and to mellow the flavors a bit. Add more broth if too thick. I usually add another ½ teaspoon of salt. Blend again if needed.
- Using 4 slices of bread, make 2 sandwiches with 2 cheese slices each. Preheat 12 inch skillet over medium-low heat for 3 minutes. Brush 1 side of sandwiches with half of melted butter. Place sandwiches buttered side down in skillet. Brush tops of sandwiches with remaining melted butter. Cover and cook until sandwich bottoms are golden brown, 4 to 8 minutes, moving sandwiches as needed for even browning.
- Using metal spatula, flip sandwiches and continue to cook, covered, until golden brown on second side and cheese is melted, about 3 minutes.
- Bring soup to simmer over medium heat. Ladle into bowls, garnish with fennel sprig, and serve with sandwiches.
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