3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO)
1 bulb fennel, quartered, cored and finely chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
1 carrot, peeled and finely chopped or grated
4 cloves garlic, crushed and chopped or sliced
3 ounces 'nduja, optional
One 28-ounce can diced or crushed fire-roasted tomatoes
1½ cups passata or tomato sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
One handful basil leaves
1 quart vegetable stock or chicken bone broth or stock
Serves: 4 to 6
Heat EVOO in soup pot or Dutch oven over medium heat, 3 turns of the pan, add fennel, onion, carrot and season with salt, sweat 5 to 7 minutes partially covered, add garlic and stir a minute or 2. If using 'nduja, make a space or well at the center and melt 'nduja and stir. Add tomatoes, passata, a sprinkle of sugar, basil and broth or stock, bring to a simmer and cook 30 minutes.
Remove from heat and puree with immersion/stick blender and stir in cream. Return to stove to keep warm on low heat. Serve in bowls topped with cheesy croutons.