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Tomato Fennel Bread Soup with Turkey Spiced BLTs

Serves 4

Whole wheat bread can act as a low-fat thickener for soups.

Ingredients

  • Tomato Fennel Soup:
  • 2 medium fennel bulbs
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 4 medium tomatoes, cored and quartered
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 2 teaspoons tomato paste
  • 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 (1-inch-thick) slices whole-wheat baguette, toasted
  • 2 teaspoons sugar, if needed
  • Sandwiches:
    • 4 slices turkey bacon
    • 1 tablespoon maple syrup, preferably grade A
    • 1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
    • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
    • 3 tablespoons mayonnaise [CAN USE REDUCED FAT]
    • 8 (1/2-inch-thick) slices whole wheat baguette, lightly toasted
    • 8 leaves iceberg lettuce
    • 1 small tomato, sliced

Method

  1. To make the soup, trim the tops and fronds from the fennel, reserving 8 fronds for garnish. Halve the fennel lengthwise, and remove the cores. Cut the fennel crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices.
  2. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the fennel, season with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and caramelized, about 25 minutes. Add the tomatoes, thyme, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes break down completely, about 15 minutes. Add the wine, and simmer 10 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste and broth, and simmer 10 more minutes. Add the bread and soak until completely softened, about 5 minutes.
  3. Remove the thyme sprigs, transfer soup to a blender or food processor, and blend until completely smooth. Return to the saucepan. (If you prefer a thinner, smoother soup, strain through a fine-mesh sieve.) Heat over medium-low heat until heated through, about 1 minute. If the tomatoes were not ripe summer fruit, taste and add sugar if needed.
  4. While the soup simmers, make the sandwich: Preheat the oven to 400°. Place the bacon on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, a nonstick baking mat, or lightly greased foil. Bake until golden, turning once, about 10 minutes. Brush bacon with syrup and sprinkle with both peppers. Bake until golden brown and crisp, about 10 minutes. Break each piece into thirds.
  5. Spread the mayonnaise on one side of each of the baguette slices. Divide the bacon, lettuce, and tomato among 4 slices of bread. Sandwich with the remaining slices of bread. Serve soup and sandwich together.