Harvest Tomato Fennel Soup to warm the soul

Tomato Soup made from scratch. Toasted cheese. Who could ask for anything more?

Last week, here in the north, you could buy a giant box of tomatoes for no money, and the this week they are almost non-existent. There is even one farm that lets you come and glean the fields for $5 a shopping bag. We finally had a freeze last night, and even my little cherry tomatoes that were hanging on for dear life finally succumbed to the cold.

A bundle of tomatoes

Last week was the last week of the farmers market as well, so I probably bought a few more than I could easily cook and eat! The Roma tomatoes and oddball field tomatoes were abundant, and I knew I could easily stow some of these in the freezer for winter soups, and make a sauce or soup.

The beautiful bulbs of fennel

            Another one of my finds was the most gorgeous fennel bulbs I’ve ever seen. So many fronds and stems, that when I cut the bulbs off, I knew I would use the abundant rest to make a flavorful stock. One fennel bulb sliced very thin was all I needed to make a lovely little side salad, paired with thinly sliced purple onion, radicchio, and chunks of dried apricot in a lemon vinaigrette. 

Let’s make stock, it won’t take a minute

            That left me with a second monster fennel bulb and enough tops to fill my large compost bucket. However, they were not quite ready for compost. I think it is important to think about how our grandparents and great grandparents approached food in the Depression and before and after. Every scrap saved and used. Every bit of flavor and nutrition extracted. The addition of an onion, a sorry carrot, a bay leaf, and a few odd vegetable and mushroom scraps, transformed those fennel stems and fronds into a stock so flavorful it could almost be served by itself as soup! Once you start thinking of these scraps as a treasure, a windfall, you will never pay $5 for a quart of vegetable or chicken stock again!

            Whatever was left after the simmering was happily dispatched into the compost bucket.

Use what you need to use

The fennel and tomato is a lovely combination. If you don’t have fronds on your fennel to make stock, just make a vegetable stock from your refrigerator scraps and add some additional crushed fennel seeds, or, in a pinch, just use vegetable stock in this recipe. It won’t have as much fennel flavor, but it will still be delicious; it’s tomato soup after all!

Don’t toss those ugly tomatoes!

I used the oddball field tomatoes and Romas, plus the last of my own cherry tomatoes, for more flavor, but frankly most tomatoes will do well here. If you don’t have a bounty of fresh tomatoes or it is the middle of winter, just use a 28-oz can of organic diced or whole tomatoes. It will work fine.

There is always a swap! And if it is homemade with love, it will be delicious. Who doesn’t love soup on a crisp Autumn day?

Harvest Tomato and Fennel Soup

  • 2 tbsp. fruity olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 fennel bulb, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp. crushed fennel seeds
  • ½ cup tomato paste
  • ¼ cup dry red wine
  • 1 quart diced tomatoes
  • 1 quart *fennel or vegetable stock
  • 1 tsp. sugar, optional if needed
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

            Heat a heavy stock pot over medium high and add the olive oil. Toss in the onion and fennel, sprinkle with a pinch of salt, and let soften, but not brown.

            Once softened, add the garlic, fennel seeds, and tomato paste and cook for a couple of minutes, until everything has bloomed. Add the wine and stir everything together for another rminute.

            Add the tomatoes and stock, then season with salt and lots of pepper.

            Bring to a boil, cover, reduce to a simmer, and continue simmering for a half hour. I do this in my oven at 250, but you can also simply simmer on the lowest setting, back burner.

Taste and correct the seasoning. Do you want to add the sugar? I didn’t need to this time around. More salt? Probably a bit more pepper.

            Continue simmering until everything is completely cooked and soft and the flavors well married. The house should smell really good just about now.

            Puree with an immersion blender, standard blender, food processor, or food mill. I use either the immersion blender or food mill, the former being less cleanup, but the latter producing the best texture. Your choice. Your time.

             Garnish with a few fennel fronds, a drizzle of olive oil, maybe some croutons, and serve with grilled or toasted cheese. We love making little toasted cheese soldiers, so everyone can have as many or few as they want, and they are fun to dunk. Of course, if we make grilled cheese, everyone dunks those too.

Cream of Tomato Fennel Soup

While I prefer my tomato soup straight up, there are those in the family who like theirs with a splash of cream of some sort.

Before concerns about cholesterol, I used half-and-half or light cream to everyone’s desired whiteness. You can use non-fat half-and-half, light coconut milk, oat milk, or any preferred whitener. Just add them at the end, a little at a time and taste.

Fennel Stock

Compost or savor?

            In a large stockpot, combine a big bunch of fennel stems and fronds, a cup-up onion, a large carrot, old and limp is fine, mushroom pieces and stems, a teaspoon of fennel seeds, and whatever other little scraps of vegetables you have on hand. Bring this to a boil, then simmer for a half hour. Let cool to room temperature, then strain.

Toasted Cheese Soldiers

Perfect for dunking!

Lightly toast a few slices of wholegrain bread. Slice into strips along the short side, usually four or five per slice depending on the loaf. Sprinkle with Paremesan, vegan Parmesan, cheddar, or other vegan cheese. Pop under the broiler until melted and starting to bubble and brown. Try to let them cool a few moments before attempting to eat.

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75 Comments Add yours

  1. gabychops says:

    Thank you, Dorothy, for the lovely soup!
    I love tomatoes of all kind! Also, melted cheese on brown toast is heaven!


    1. Thank you! Who could ask for anything more? Chilly weather, hot soup, cheesy soldiers. All good.

  2. Love tomato soup and your seasonings make it special.

    1. Thank you Jovina! I love the combination of the tomato with the fennel, they really blend well.

  3. Jenna says:

    This soup is calling my name, and yes please, bring on the toasted cheese soldiers!

    1. Thank you Jenna! The sum of the two is much greater than the parts!

  4. brwbmm says:

    In addition to tomato soup, use those leftover fresh tomatoes to cook up some tomato jam.

    1. Lovely idea! Such a great use for that end of season bounty!

  5. CarolCooks2 says:

    I have loved tomato since a child and still do its one of my favourites and with cheesy soldiers perfect anytime of the day or month…with fennel even better…a lovely addition, Dorothy 🙂

    1. Thank you Carol!
      It was hard to keep the soldiers alive until the soup was served…

      1. CarolCooks2 says:

        Haha from you or the others… 😂

      2. Well, a little of both…

      3. CarolCooks2 says:


  6. Ally Bean says:

    Toasted cheese soldiers is a great name for something so perfectly suited to this soup. I’ve never thought to add red wine to tomato soup, but I can see how that would zhoosh up the flavor.

    1. Thanks Ally! The wine, indeed, just added a bit of zhoosh!

  7. This sounds amazing! Time for me to get more tomatoes and fennel!

    1. I hope you enjoy it! This one is really a keeper.

  8. Ronit says:

    My kind of soup! Tomatoes and fennel definitely belong together.
    With you on homemade stock from scraps. I save them in freezer bag until I have enough. The stock is so much aromatic and fresh than any store bought one. 🙂

    1. Thank you Ronit! Freezing the scraps is such a good idea because depending on what you are cooking in a given week, you might not have enough.
      It really does taste better, and more balanced. I’ve had store bought stock that tastes like all one vegetable, celery or carrot, and it makes it a whole different addition.

  9. NativeNM says:

    I’m one of those who love cream in their tomato soup, however your recipe is awfully tempting!

    1. Thank you Jan! Well, the good news is that everyone can be happy and add cream if they like!

  10. Rehoboth says:

    Nice Post

  11. Julia says:

    Your soup sounds perfect for this time of year! I enjoyed your photos as well.

    1. Thank you Julia! It really warmed the bones!

  12. Bernadette says:

    A wonderful blend of flavors in your recipe. I need to try the fennel addition.

    1. Thank you Bernie! I love the fennel in this soup, so tasty!

  13. jama says:

    Yum, wish I had a bowl of your soup right this minute! Thanks for the recipe. Hooray for soup season!

    1. Thank you! I’m with you Jam, soup all the way!

  14. terrie gura says:

    Oh YUM! I love fennel in anything, so I know already this is delish. How have I missed knowing about the soldiers? That’s a brilliant idea for dunking, much easier than a whole sandwich. Love it!

    1. My mom used to cut toasts like this when we had soft-boiled eggs and she called them soldiers. The cheese is a perfect addition!

  15. The fennel is a wonderful touch!

    1. Thank you! It really adds a nice flavor, one of my favorites.

  16. Sounds delicious, can’t wait to try it!

    1. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did! Comforting, warming, tasty!

  17. Christy B says:

    This one sounds nice and comforting, making it a great choice on the coming cold days of winter!

    1. We have finally had a freeze here Christy, so now’s the time to think soup!

      1. Christy B says:

        Ohhhh we haven’t had our first freeze yet ~ I have a feeling it’s coming very soon!

      2. Of course, being Vermont, you never know. Freezing last week, and today it is 70 degrees! Go figure.

  18. Americaoncoffee says:

    So seasonally tastes looking with cheesy love, warmth and tasty crispy fixins’. I hope you’ve had a relaxed week. Hugs! 🤗💞💞💞🤗

    1. It’s been a hectic week, but thank you! Soup always calms.

      1. Americaoncoffee says:

        Hectic happens with seasonal transitioning. Soups are a blessing.😋🍲❤️❤️

      2. Yes, no matter the time of year! 💕

  19. You are killing me Dorothy! I’m sitting at a high school football game, freezing my ass off, reading about your warm soup! Mercy…hugs, C

    1. I’ll bring some right over in a Thermos!

  20. 32 when I made coffee this morning so this is perfect timing for some delicious tomato soup.

    1. Yes, we finally had a freeze Judy! Time for soup!

  21. Toasted cheese?? Are you kidding me?? Ding Ding Ding!!!

  22. Anonymous says:

    The soup looks delicious! So rich in colour

    1. Thank you! The color is a wonderful thing about tomato soup!

  23. Chef Mimi says:

    Just beautiful!

    1. Thank you my friend! We were quite content.

  24. ohiocook says:

    This looks so good!

    1. Thank you! Just right for this time of year!

  25. Gail says:

    Wow. This soup looks amazingly delicious. Perfect for the weekend. 🍃🍅

    1. It certainly stretched over three days!

      1. Gail says:

        Probably better each day. 😋🍂🧡

  26. Amanda says:

    I can see you get the concept of not wasting food and although I have not grown or cooked with fennel, I would like to try it as I have just purchased a recipe book with a fennel recipe in it. I am saving your idea of making a vegetable stock from your refrigerator scraps and add some additional crushed fennel seeds! I always learn something useful when I read your posts, Dorothy. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Thank you so much Amanda!
      I was lucky to have been raised by a mother who taught me to spin gold out of straw, and it has helped me through many a challenging time!

  27. nancyc says:

    Tomato soup is the best—it’s always been one of my favorites! Your recipe sounds great! 🙂

    1. Thank you Nancy! It’s such a lovely comfort food.

  28. Thank you for this recipe, Dorothy. It looks very good and I love tomato soup.

    1. I always feel like a kid when I eat tomato soup!

  29. I am so looking forward to soup season damn it’s only yummy veggies how can I gain weight this looks so yummy.

    1. Thank you! I’ve asked myself the same question!

  30. sunisanthosh says:

    Perfect soup with flavors.

    1. Thank you! I was quite pleased with it.

    1. Thank you for reposting!

  31. It is so sad to see it all come to an end but exciting for the holidays to get here. Your soup looks wonderful!

    1. Thank you! It was really tasty.

  32. Even if here are 30 degrees C right now I would so love a bowl of this warming soup 😋😋 What a great combination of flavors 😋

    1. Thank you Ribana! It’s a nice soup any time of year.

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