So to start with, I layered three sliced tomatoes and half a fennel root to my baking dish. Next I popped in a couple of bay leaves, few balls of black pepper and topped the veggies and spices with one cup vegetable stock, about a half cup white wine and about one and a half cup water. I covered the baking container and let the ingredients cook for 2 hrs in the oven at about 350 degrees. Then I pulled it out and strained all the liquid into a bowl making sure to press hard on the veggies to draw out all the liquid. To this I added some salt and pepper to taste and a pinch of anise seed.
The assembly was pretty easy - poured the tomato fennel broth into a bowl, placed the rice cake and garnished with some fennel leaves and cilantro. Voila! Behold the healthy, hearty and flavorful soup.
Soup, salad, sauce, curry base, side dish, garnish, topping.... mexican, italian, spanish, indian, mediterranean....stew it, grill it, bake it, stuff it, puree it, boil it, dry it or eat it raw. Do what you can with a tomato and it'll make food better - perhaps that's why it is the mainstay of so many cuisines.