| Courtesy by Chef Mary Beth Lawton-Johnson

Serves 6 to 8

In this recipe, I combine two of my favorite ingredients, fennel, and artichoke. This light and healthy saffron is the perfect soup for any time of the year.

Preparation:  25 minutes
Cooking:  1 hour 30 minutes

4 whole artichokes, cleaned and quartered (leave the stem on for presentation)
1 cup olive oil, reserving
1 1/2 tablespoon
2 quarts fennel broth (see recipe below)
1 pinch saffron toasted
1 shallot, julienne
2 garlic cloves sliced very thin
1 whole fennel, julienne (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 and fresh parsley leaves

Method: 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, 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 julienne fennel and cook for a few more minutes. Pour the saffron broth into the mixture and cook for 15 more minutes.

In a small saute pan, heat 1/2 tablespoon of oil over high heat and saute 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 at once.

Fennel Broth
(Yield about 3 quarts)

2 fennel bulbs with tops roughly chopped
1 tablespoon fennel seeds
2 bay leaves
4 parsley stems
4 quarts cold water

Combine all ingredients with 4 quarts of water in a large stockpot. Bring to a boil and simmer for 45 minutes. Strain and reduce to about 3 quarts. Chill and use according to the recipe. The broth can keep for up to 5 days.