Truly there must be a problem when I go to the supermarket even when I don’t absolutely need to…okay well I was getting one thing that was pretty important, since it was for breakfast, and breakfast being the most important meal of the day therefore making my trip important. Plus it was close to the gym. Like the logic? Good. I’m sticking to it.
Whilst I headed towards the bread section to pick up a pack of crumpets (available at Trader Joe's) – bread that looks like a biscuit and tastes like pancakes, what!?! I know! AND has no fat and low in calories, food from the gods to a carb lover like me - of course, I chose the long route. Next thing you know my eyes started to wander around, a dangerous habit I really should take care of, and landed on fennel bulbs. Well I’ve always heard of people using fennels in soups and such, and since I was planning on making soup, I thought this would be a great time to try it out. See that? Justification for buying stuff I don’t absolutely need. Regardless, when it was time to go before I did anymore damage, 2 fennel bulbs left with me.
Cooking with fennel is a first for me; I have these bulbous looking things, and have no idea how to handle them. I am so glad I live in a time period where if you don’t know something, someone else who does is just a mouse click away. You Tube to the rescue! One video later, I realized how easy it was to cut it. Treat it like an onion except make sure you core the center out and cut off the stalks before anything else. Then chop like you would an onion, simple (thank goodness). I also didn’t know what a fennel smelled or tasted like, just figured if it’s that popular with people then it must be good. I’m a brave soul aren’t I? Going in blind. Well luckily it’s not horrible but it’s not my favorite either. Fresh fennel reminded me of black licorice thanks to its anise aroma…I wish I knew that before buying. Note I hate the smell of black licorice which made me hate the black marker back in the days when we use to use those scented markers to color with in elementary school. Why would anyone think that a kid wants to smell that!? Black couldn’t smell like dark chocolate and brown to smell like coffee?? Nope, black licorice, yuck. Lucky here the smell is mild but still distinct, I’d know that smell anywhere. I should’ve known that it was trouble when it’s shaped like celery (not a fan of celery either, the only time it’s acceptable is when it’s in a soup stock).
Well since I got myself into this mess, I’m going to tread forward, hoping that like celery it’ll do well in a soup. Ah and it did! Once it’s been incorporated into the soup, it was beautiful. Maybe it’s the concentrated anise aroma I don’t like, too much of a good thing equals bad or too much bad equal worst? Who knows…
Once again with nutrition in mind, I decided I wanted to make this a potato base soup for its creaminess and in addition to the fennel, I wanted more, so I added spinach. Clearly my go-to vegetable when I want more nutrients and why not?! Can never go wrong there!
Creamy Spinach Fennel Soup
Makes 3-4 servings
- 1 fennel bulb, chopped
- 1 cup fresh spinach
- 1-2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 large white onion, chopped ¼” pieces
- 4 cups chicken broth
- 1- 2 large potatoes, peeled and roughly chopped
- 1 cup milk
- ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup heavy cream or crème fraiche (optional, I sometimes put this in my creamy soups but omitted it for this particular recipe however the option is here)
- In a medium (4-qt.) soup pot, heat oil over medium heat. Add the onion and fennel to cook, stirring frequently, until lightly brown, about 5 min. Scoop out half of the fennel onion mix and set aside. Add the broth and potato, partially cover, and simmer over medium-low heat for 20 min.
- Take out about ½ the amount of potatoes and set aside
- In a food processor or in small batches in a blender, purée the mixture with fresh spinach and return it to the pot.
- Add the milk, reserved potatoes, and reserved fennel onion mix; bring to a simmer and cook for 10-15 min
- Remove from heat, stir in the cream, taste, and season with salt and pepper.
- Serve in warm bowls garnished with cream if desired.