Serves 4

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 large fennel bulb (about 16 ounces), trimmed, cored, and chopped
6 medium shallots, finely chopped
1-1/2 small carrots, finely chopped
1 (28-ounce) can and 1 (14-ounce) can whole plum tomatoes
3/4 cup vegetable broth
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
3 tablespoons feathery fennel leaves, reserved

1. In a medium stockpot, heat oil over medium-low heat. Add fennel, shallots, and carrots; cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are very soft but not browned, about 15 minutes. Add tomatoes with juice, broth, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil over high heat.

2. Reduce heat and simmer gently, uncovered, for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Transfer the mixture, in batches if necessary, to a food processor fitted with the knife blade or to a blender. Process or blend until smooth and puréed. If necessary, return to the pot and reheat over low heat. Serve hot, garnished with the reserved fennel leaves.