Cauliflower, White Bean and Fennel Soup

Serves 4-6
You'll Need: 1 Tbsp olive oil, 1 Tbsp unsalted butter, 1 medium sweet onion (diced), 2 cloves garlic (minced), 1 tsp dried fennel seeds (lightly chopped)*, 4 fresh sprigs thyme (stems intact), 1 medium head of fresh cauliflower (stems removed, cut into medium florets), two 15.5 oz cans white beans (strained, not rinsed), 2 cups low sodium chicken stock, 2 cups water, 1 cup white wine (I recommend pinot grigio or chardonnay), 1/4 tsp kosher salt, 1/8 tsp black pepper, 2-3 Tbsp fresh Italian flat leaf parsley (chopped, just the leafy part), 1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese, 2-3 Tbsp pine nuts (freshly toasted)
How to Prepare: In a large Dutch oven or large pot that has a lid, warm the oil and butter. Add the onions and saute until they are softened (about 5 minutes). Add the garlic, fennel and thyme and saute another 2 minutes (stir regularly to avoid burning). Add the cauliflower and half the beans and stir everything together. Pour in the stock, water and wine and stir. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and cover with a lid. Allow to simmer for 15-20 minutes until the cauliflower is fork tender. Allow this to cool. Using an immersion blender, blend up the soup mixture. Make sure the pot you are using has a bottom that can handle an immersion blender. If not, put the chunky soup into a blender in batches and blend and then return to the pot. Add the remaining half of the beans and stir. Reheat the soup mixture on the stove-top. Transfer to a heat safe serving bowl and ladle from there, or ladle into individual serving bowls. Garnish with a pinch of parsley, parmesan and pine nuts in each bowl, as desired.

Recommendation: Slice up a long and narrow baguette of French bread, into 1/4" pieces. Place on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Top with parmesan cheese. Bake in a 350 degree F oven for 8-10 minutes until cheese has melted and bread is crispy. Serve on the side of the soup or place a couple pieces of bread in the soup. It's delicious.

* Note, if you are not a big fan of fennel, then reduce the quantity from 1 tsp to 1/2 tsp dried fennel seeds.

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