So now that fall is essentially gone from NYC, the weather has been pretty overcast, cold and rainy. Just the perfect weather for a hearty soup. I had some pork sausage that I needed to use (also from Whippoorwill Farm in CT) and since fennel seeds are often used to make pork sausage, I thought it would be great to caramelize some fennel and add it to the soup.
The night before making the soup I soaked about 1.5 cups of cannellini beans I bought from Fairway Market in NYC. Unfortunately, the last couple of weeks at Fairway they have seem to stop carrying dried cannellini beans so I think I have to find a new place. If anyone news a good place, drop me a line.
Anyways, after a good soaking, I dropped them in a big pot of cold water, added a few pieces of leek tops I'd been saving in the freezer, some fresh rosemary, and a few cloves of garlic.
I slowly simmered them until they were soft and creamy. I let them cool in their cooking liquid.
Next, I diced up a couple of carrots, some leeks, and sliced some fennel. Here's the mise en place:
I then started to caramelize the fennel. I'd say it took about 25-30 min on low heat and resulted in a really rich brown:
Next, I browned the sausage. I wanted to have fairly large pieces of sausage in the soup instead of having ground sausage. Therefore, I just used a spoon to spoon out irregular sausage pieces into a pan. After they were brown I removed them to paper towels:
Next, using the same pan with the fat and fond from browning the sausage, I added the leek and carrot dice. I let this sauteed for a few minutes, then added the caramelized fennel:
Then, I deglazed the pan with homemade veal stock, scraped up all the brown bits on the bottom of the pan and then added the cooked white beans and the cooked sausage. I brought it up to a simmer and let the flavors meld:
While the soup was simmering, I got started on the arugula-almond pesto. Well, actually it wasn't really a pesto. It was just arugula+almond+garlic+olive oil. Taking these ingredients, I put them in a blender and blitzed them. Unfortunately, the other weekend I broke my food processor so I had to use a blender. I ended up having to add too much olive oil to get everything to mix and so the result wasn't really what I was looking for, but it still did the trick:
Next, I toasted some slices of baguettes and spread some of the faux-pesto on each slice. Then I put the soup on the bowls and served it with the pesto-topped-baguette.