Based on a recipe from Cathy Luchetti’s book, The Hot Flash Cookbook. The recipe intro says, “Thickened with grains, this elegant and robustly flavored soup by Linda Hillel uses all parts of the fennel plant. Asparagus was prized by the Greeks and Romans for its unique flavor.”
- Separate the fennel fronds from the bulb and stems. Finely mince the fronds to yield ½ cup. Slice the fennel bulb and stems.
- Cut off 1 ½ inches of the asparagus tips and set aside. Using a vegetable peeler, peel the tough skin off the asparagus stalks, then cut into 1-inch pieces.
- Heat oil in large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add sliced fennel stems, asparagus stalks, and onion and sauté for 5 minutes. Add the rice or barley and broth, cover, and simmer over low heat 30 to 40 minutes, or until the rice or barley is very tender.
- Transfer saucepan contents to a blender or food processor and puree to the desired consistency in several batches if necessary. Return the puree to the pan and stir in 1 cup of the milk, the reserved fennel fronds, the asparagus tips, salt, and pepper. IF the soup seems too thick, stir in additional milk. Heat until the asparagus tips are crisp-tender, about 1 ½ minutes.