To prepare the fennel, cut off the bottom adn the long furry stalks, reserving the feathery/furry leaves for garnish, if needed. Cut the bulb in half and remove the core by cutting toward the middle of the bulb on either side of the core. Take out the triangular piece of the core and toss. Cut the fennel into 1/4 inch strips.
In a large pot, heat the oil (I used water on this recipe) and saute the onions, garlic, fennel seeds, fennel, celery, and thyme for 5 minutes or until the onions are translucent. Turn the heat to high and add the vegetable broth, basil, diced tomatoes and white beans. Bring the ingredients to a boil and then simmer until done. Add salt and pepper to taste. After the soup is done, place soup into a blender and puree. It is wonderful either pureed or not pureed.
Serving ideas: with brown rice or over mashed potatoes or just “plain” with your favorite crackers.
I never cook with oil which took some getting used to but if you use vegetable broth, white wine (boxed) or water, you can saute anything. I drastically cut back on the spice because I find that most things are overspiced and it is easier to add more spices then it is to take them away. There have been alot of soups that I have made where you no longer taste the vegetables and only taste the spices…..not good. This soup is really, really good over garlic mashed potatoes. The little hint of garlic in the mashed potatoes is wonderful and the potatoes also makes the soup seem even more creamy. I also add fresh spices when I have a chance. The one fresh spice I always have on hand is Thyme. A few sprigs in any soup makes it absolutely wonderful.