Chickpea Soup with Fennel and Orange Zest

-1 medium fennel bulb (about 1 pound)

- ¼ cup olive oil

- 2 medium onions, chopped

- 4 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed

- 1 teaspoon grated orange zest


- 1 cup drained canned whole tomatoes, chopped

- Salt and freshly ground pepper

- 6 cups vegetable or chicken stock

- 4 cups chickpeas (drained and rinsed if canned)


(1)     Trim the stems and fronds from the fennel.  Mince and reserve 1 T fronds.  Trim a thin slice from the base of the bulb and remove any tough outer layers or blemishes.  Cut bulb in half through the base and remove the small triangular piece of core from each half.  With flat side of bulb down and knife parallel to the work surface, slice each fennel half crosswise to yield several ½ inch thick slices.  Cut the slices lengthwise to yield long strips about 1/8 inch thick.  Set aside.  (I just slice it up however I feel like it to create long thin slices).

(2)     Heat oil in a large soup kettle or stockpot.  Add onions and sauté til translucent, about 5 minutes.  Stir in the garlic and orange zest and cook for 2 minutes more.  Stir in the tomatoes and cook 2 minutes more.

(3)     Add the fennel strips and cook, stirring occasionally until they begin to soften, about 7 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

(4)     Pour the stock into the pot and bring to a boil.  Lower heat and simmer, stirring occasionally until fennel is quite tender, about 15 minutes.

(5)     Add chickpeas and simmer to blend flavors – about 5 minutes.

(6)     Serve garnished with minced fennel fronds.