In this recipe, Chef Zouhair Zariri, author of the book, Moorish Fusion Cuisine: Conquering the New World combines two of his favorite ingredients, fennel and artichoke to make a light, healthy soup that combines flavors of East and West. With the chill of fall creeping in, it is the perfect comfort food with a twist.Serves 6 to 8 Preparation: 25 minutes; Cooking: 1 hour, 30 minutes Ingredients: 4 whole artichokes, cleaned and quartered (leave stem on for presentation) 1 cup olive oil, reserving 1½ tablespoons 2 quarts fennel broth (see recipe below) 1 pinch saffron, toasted 1 shallot, julienned 2 garlic cloves, sliced very thin 1 whole fennel, julienned (reserve top part for stock) 8 organic grape tomatoes or cherry tomatoes Kosher salt to taste Freshly ground black pepper to taste Garnish: Zest of 1 lemon Fresh parsley leaves
Poach the artichokes as follows. In a small sauce pot, over medium heat, place the artichoke quarters in the olive oil and poach for about 15 to 20 minutes or until the artichokes are tender. Keep warm.
In a medium soup pot, bring the fennel broth to warm, add the toasted saffron, and simmer for 30 to 45 minutes, allowing the saffron to release all its flavors.
Meanwhile, in a separate soup pot, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Sweat the shallot and garlic for a few minutes, stirring occasionally to make sure the shallot and garlic don’t burn. Add the julienned fennel and cook for a few more minutes. Pour the saffron broth into the mixture and cook for 15 more minutes.
In a small sauté pan, heat ½ tablespoon of oil over high heat and sauté the tomatoes for a few seconds or until their skins start to blister. Add to the soup and simmer for 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
To serve, ladle the soup into medium bowls and top with artichoke quarters crisscross. Sprinkle with lemon zest and garnish with fresh parsley leaves. Serve immediately.