This delicate combination of springtime flavors (young carrots and fennel with a couple of apples and some fresh ginger tossed in) is the perfect warm-up for those chilly Spring evenings when you're craving warm comfort food but still want to keep things light.
It was a HUGE hit with the Bear, even though he was a little skeptical when I told him this was all I had time to make for dinner. Turns out it was not only good enough for him to go back for seconds, it was filling enough that he couldn't finish! Love it when that happens...
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium fennel bulb, trimmed and thinly sliced; fronds reserved and chopped
1 lb carrots, peeled and sliced into 1/4-inch rounds
2 medium apples, cored and cut into chunks (I used Gala)
2 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
4-5 cups vegetable broth
1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1 tablespoon ginger, freshly grated
1/3 cup fresh orange juice
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
In a large, heavy saucepan, warm oil over medium heat. Add the fennel slices, and cook, stirring, until softened. Add the carrots, apples and garlic, and cook for another minute or two. Pour in only 4 of the 5 cups of vegetable broth and reserve the last cup.
Season with salt and simmer, covered, until you can easily cut the carrots with a spoon, about 20 minutes. Add the ginger at the end (this keeps the flavor bright) and cook for a couple of minutes more.
Remove the soup from the heat, and stir in the orange juice and reserved fennel fronds. Use an immersion blender to purée the soup directly in the pot. Or, if you don't have one, transfer it in 2-3 batches to a food processor or blender and purée until smooth.
Adjust seasoning as necessary and serve warm.