Ingredients
  • 1 pound (about 4) carrots, peeled and split lengthwise then across
  • 2 bulbs fennel, trimmed and quartered lengthwise (a handful of fronds reserved and chopped)
  • 1 large onion, peeled and cut into 6 wedges with root attached
  • Olive oil, for liberal drizzling (about 3 tablespoons)
  • Salt and pepper
  • A few sprigs fresh thyme, stripped from stems
  • 6 cloves garlic in their skins/jackets
  • 1 quart chicken or vegetable stock, store-bought or homemade
  • 1 tablespoon Acacia honey
  • A dollop mascarpone or crème fraîche, to finish (optional)
For the Fennel and Chili Flake Breadcrumbs
  • 1 1/2 cups (3 half-inch slices, trimmed of crust) peasant-style bread, torn
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, a turn of the pan
  • 2 tablespoons good butter
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seed
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • Salt and black pepper
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Preparation

Preheat oven to 400°F.
 
Toss carrots, fennel and onion with olive oil and season liberally with salt and pepper. Scatter on a baking sheet with the thyme and roast about 20 minutes in upper third of oven. Add garlic in skins and turn vegetables; roast about 20 minutes more. Remove and cool to room temp.


Peel garlic and add the roasted veggies to a food processor or high-powered blender in batches, puréeing with stock. Add to a soup pot and heat through, use water to thin if soup is too thick. Stir in honey.
 
For the topping, pulse bread into coarse crumbs in food processor. Heat oil, a turn of the pan, in a medium skillet over medium heat and melt butter into oil. When it foams, add fennel seed and red chili flakes, and swirl a minute. Add breadcrumbs and toast until golden, seasoning with salt and pepper to taste. Add cheese and stir a minute or two more. 
 
Serve soup in shallow bowls topped with a dollop of Mascarpone or crème fraîche to stir in, some of the chopped fronds and some fennel-chili crumbs.