PLEASE...do NOT make this with raw fennel seeds! As I've said many times, fennel (both the bulb and the seed) changes dramatically when you cook it, going from very strongly anise flavored to mild and delicious. If you don't roast the seeds the soup will taste like licorice (blech!).
Cauliflower Broccoli Soup with Fennel, Crispy Onions, and Pine Nuts
3 c. cauliflower
6 c. broccoli
2 medium yellow onions, sliced 1/4"thick (about 3 c.)
6 cloves garlic, peeled
4 T. ghee
up to 4 c. water or broth (I used water)
2 t. himalayan pink salt
1 t. fennel seeds, toasted* and ground in a mortar and pestle
1/2 t. pepper flakes or to taste
1/4 c. crispy onions**
2 T. pine nuts, toasted*
Preheat oven to 400F.
This step is only for people who get their brassicas from a biodynamic CSA: because our farm uses NO chemicals, and brassicas are susceptible to the cabbage butterfly, we often find tiny caterpillars in them. The first time I saw one it skeeved me out; but now I'm glad they're there because it's PROOF that our farm is not using pesticides!
Here's how I get rid of them: First I cut the veggies into florets, squishing any that I find lurking on the stems; then I blanch the veggies in boiling water for 3 minutes to extract those that may be hiding in the florets. If there are any in the bag you used to bring the veggies home, you will want to squish them, too, or you may have white butterflies in your kitchen in the middle of winter. (Ask me how I know this...) I don't know if they'll feast on your house plants - we dispatched them immediately - but I wouldn't risk it.
If you get your cauliflower and broccoli in a grocery store, you won't have to blanch it but I find that it speeds up the roasting process and prevents under-cooked veg with burned extremities.
Remove the blanched cauliflower and broccoli from the boiling water with a slotted spoon or skimmer, and transfer to a 9 x 13 baking dish. Add the ghee, onions and garlic and mix to combine. Roast for 45 minutes turning every 15 minutes to prevent burning.
Hold back half of the broccoli and transfer the rest of the veggies to a food processor or blender. Add the salt, red pepper, and ground roasted fennel seed. Puree, adding water/broth as necessary to create a creamy soup. We like it fairly thick, you may prefer it thinner. (Because I have very little fridge space, I add the water/broth to the bowl as I serve it, so that the leftovers take up less space in the fridge.)
This makes 4 cups of puree. I add 2 cups of water for a fairly thick soup which makes four 1.5 cup servings.
Serve topped with the reserved broccoli, crispy onions, and pine nuts.
* To toast fennel seeds or pine nuts, heat them in a dry pan over med-low, stirring often, until they're light brown, about 3-5 minutes. Watch closely so they don't burn. Transfer to a plate to cool.
** To make crispy onions, Melt 2 T. ghee on med-high. Add 1 c. thinly sliced onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until dark brown but not burned, about 15 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel to drain. Store in a glass container or they will go soggy.