When I discovered how frequently fennel is used in Italian cooking, that was all the reason I needed to put together another variety of Italian soup. Did you know that the entire fennel plant can be eaten? I wanted to use the rest of the fennel from my Chow Box, so I saved the stalks and leaves from the fennel bulb I used earlier this week and put them in this soup. This is closer to a chowder or a stew than a soup. If you prefer more broth in your soup, simply add a few cups of broth and adjust the seasonings as needed.
The flavors in this soup worked really great together. I absolutely loved what the fennel provided in combination with the other vegetables. Normally, sausage is a pretty strong flavor in a soup (and I really like that!) however, the vegetables were dominant this time. We all liked this soup and I will definitely be using fennel this way again.
Italian Tomato Stew with Fennel, Mushrooms and Spinach
1 lb hot sausage
1/2 red onion, chopped small
1 scallion, chopped finely
stalks and leaves from 1 fennel bulb, stalks sliced thinly and leaves roughly chopped
6 large mushrooms, roughly chopped, about 1 cup pieces
1 large tomato, chopped small or 1 can of diced tomatoes
1 can diced fire roasted tomatoes
1 can Italian stewed tomatoes
2 cups water
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon basil
1 teaspoon salt
4 cups baby spinach leaves, add a bit more if not using kale with the spinach
Optional: 1-2 cups chopped kale, I used the last of my peacock kale
generous amount of finely shredded Pecorino Romano cheese or Parmesan cheese
In the bottom of a large pot or Dutch oven, cook and crumble the sausage. Add the onions and fennel and cook a few more minutes, just until the onions start to soften. Add all remaining ingredients, EXCEPT for the kale and spinach. Simmer for half an hour. Taste and adjust seasonings as desired.
Add the greens and stir to combine. Simmer for just a few minutes, until they are slightly softened and wilted. Top individual servings with plenty of shredded cheese. Enjoy!