2 headsof garlic125 ml (½ cup)olive oil8fennel bulbs, quartered, fronds and two stalks reserved for serving 2leeks, white part only, thinly sliced1onion, finely diced1 litre (4 cups) vegetable stock200 gmcrème fraîche, plus extra to serve¼ cup (loosely packed)flat-leaf parsleySeeded olive oil crackers200 gm (1⅓ cups)plain flour, sieved50 gm (⅓ cup)wholemeal spelt flour, sieved1 tspbaking powder25 mlextra-virgin olive oil2 tbsp eachsunflower seeds and pepitas2 tbspquinoa1 tspcrushed fennel seeds1 tsppoppy seeds
For seeded olive oil crackers, combine flours and baking powder in a bowl, add 1 tsp fine sea salt and stir to combine. Add olive oil and 120ml water and stir to combine. Bring together with your hands, knead lightly to form a smooth dough, pat into a disc, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate to rest (1 hour). Meanwhile, combine seeds and quinoa in a small bowl and set aside. Preheat oven to 220C. Divide dough into two pieces, then roll out each piece on a floured work surface to 2mm thick. Cut into rough 4cm squares and transfer to oven trays lined with baking paper. Brush crackers with olive oil, scatter with seed mixture, season to taste and bake in batches until golden and crisp (6-7 minutes). Transfer to a wire rack and cool.
Preheat oven to 180C. Place each garlic head on a piece of foil, drizzle each with 1 tsp oil and wrap individually to enclose, then set aside. Scatter fennel wedges on oven trays lined with baking paper and drizzle with 60ml oil. Season to taste and roast, turning occasionally, until golden and very tender (40-50 minutes). Add garlic in last 30 minutes of cooking and roast until tender. Set fennel and garlic aside. Heat remaining oil in a large saucepan over medium heat, add leek and onion and stir occasionally until tender (6-7 minutes). Add stock and 750ml water and bring to the simmer. Add fennel, reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for flavours to combine (10-12 minutes), then remove from heat. Squeeze roast garlic from skin (discard skin) and add to pan. Process mixture with a hand-held blender until smooth (be careful, hot soup may splash). Add crème fraîche, season to taste and process to combine.
Thinly slice fennel stalks on a mandolin, combine with fennel fronds and parsley and toss to combine. Serve soup hot, topped with extra crème fraîche and herbs, with seeded olive oil crackers.
This recipe is from the May 2012 issue of Australian Gourmet