I recently made this while enjoying my second (or third) Royal Corona honeymoon and my love is strong. I have never been to the restaurant Moro in London but it’s on my list. Their three cookbooks create a cuisine where the Moors and Christians ditch the fighting for feasting. Spain, the Middle East, road trips and music all get mixed up for a really unique look at familiar cuisines. I can’t imagine being without all three books.
Sopa de Hinojo (Fennel, Potato and White Bean Soup)
- ½ pound dried Rancho Gordo Royal Corona beans
- 4 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
- 4-5 fennel bulbs, about a pound, outside layer removed, halved and finely diced
- 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 1 teaspoon fennel seeds (optional)
- 3 medium waxy potatoes, about 15 ounces, peeled, diced and lightly salted
- 1 quart bean liquor and/or water
- About 40 threads of saffron, infused in 2 tablespoons boiling water
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh fennel leaves or flat-leaf parsley
- Sea salt and black pepper
- Bring the beans, covered in about 2 inches of water, to a rapid boil for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to low and maintain a simmer until they’re soft, about 2 hours or so. Drain the beans, reserving the bean broth. You can soak the beans up to 8 hours if you like but be careful not to oversoak.
- In another large saucepan with a heavy bottom, heat the olive oil over a medium heat. Add the diced fennel with a pinch of salt and stir well. Lower the heat and continue to fry for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the fennel begins to caramelize and become soft. Now add the garlic, fennel seeds (if using) and the potatoes, mix well and fry for another 5 minutes. Pour on the bean liquor and/or water or stock and the saffron-infused water. Stir well, scraping the bottom of the pan to release any caramelized bits, and bring to a gentle simmer. Cook for another 10-15 minutes or until the potatoes are soft, then add the drained beans. Season with salt and pepper and simmer for a few minutes before stirring in the chopped fennel tops or parsley, and serving with a little drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.