roasted celery and fennel soup

serves 6

8 large celery stalks cut into 2 inch pieces
1/2 bulb fresh fennel cut into 2 inch chunks
4 large whole garlic cloves, not peeled
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon white pepper
3 medium redskin potatoes, peeled and cut into a 1½ inch dice
6 cups chicken broth
½ cup fat free half and half
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
Salt and pepper for re seasoning if needed
Celery leaves and fennel fronds, if desired for garnish
Extra virgin olive oil for drizzling

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Spread the cut celery, fennel and cloves of garlic in a 9x13 inch roasting pan. Add the salt, pepper and olive oil and toss to thoroughly coat everything. Roast in the oven for 40 to 45 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the edges of the vegetables just begin to brown. While the vegetables are cooking, cook the potatoes in the chicken broth until tender, about 10 to 12 minutes. Set the pan aside to cool.

When the vegetables have finished roasting add them to the potatoes and broth, let cool. In a blender puree the soup in batches, use a blender stick or a food processor. If desired you can strain the soup through a mesh strainer. Once pureed return the soup to the pot and bring up to the boil. Stir in the cream/half and half and the lemon juice. Taste for seasoning, and garnish each bowl with celery leaves and fennel fronds if desired.