This is not a soup but a simply prepared vegetable side flavored by a light, flavorful broth. The sprouts' mellow creaminess is tempered by the spicy warmth of the liquid.
- 3 star anise pods
- 1 1⁄2 tsp. whole coriander
- 1 1⁄2 tsp. whole black peppercorns
- 1⁄2 tsp. whole cloves
- 1⁄2 tsp. fennel seeds
- 1⁄2 tsp. whole allspice
- 2 pods green cardamom
- 2 tsp. toasted sesame oil, divided
- 2 tsp. canola oil, divided
- 1 medium bulb fennel, cut into ⅛-inch slices
- 1 large carrot, thinly sliced on the bias
- 1 large parsnip, thinly sliced on the bias
- 4 scallions, cut into 1-inch batons
- 4 cups homemade or purchased vegetable stock (non-tomato-based preferred)
- 1⁄4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
- 2-3 tbsp. soy sauce or wheat-free tamari
- 1 1⁄2 lb. Brussels sprouts, ends and outer leaves trimmed
- Kosher salt and freshly ground white pepper, to taste
- 1-2 tsp. toasted sesame seeds, for garnish
Heat a 4-quart saucepan over medium-low heat and toast the whole spices in the dry pan for 5 minutes until fragrant and slightly darker in color. Remove from heat, cool, and finely grind in a spice grinder. Set aside, reserving any remaining spice mixture for another use.
Return the saucepan to medium heat and add 1 tsp. sesame oil and 1 tsp. canola oil. Add fennel, carrot, parsnip, scallions and 2 tsp. of the ground spice blend, stirring to coat. Cook the vegetables until softened and beginning to caramelize, 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook until slightly reduced, 15 minutes, skimming the broth as needed. Strain broth, pressing on solids to extract liquid and discarding vegetables. You should have 3 cups of broth. If you have less, add water to equal three cups; if you have more, return strained broth to saucepan and reduce as needed. Season broth with lime juice, tamari, salt and white pepper to taste and keep warm.
Meanwhile, prepare the Brussels sprouts by removing and reserving 3-4 layers of outer leaves, until the remaining sprout is thimble-sized. Halve the sprouts and set both sprouts and leaves aside. Heat the remaining sesame and canola oils in a large skillet over medium-high heat until oil is hot. Add thimble-sized sprouts and sauté 2-3 minutes until bright green. Add the reserved sprout leaves and ½ tsp. spice mixture and quickly stir fry until leaves are no longer crackling, 1-2 minutes. Reduce heat slightly, add 3-4 tbsp. broth, cover and cook 2-3 minutes more until leaves are slightly wilted and sprouts are crisp-tender. Season lightly with salt and white pepper.
Ladle ¾ cup broth each into four prepared bowls. Divide the sprouts into four portions and mound in the center of the bowls. Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds and serve immediately.