The first time I tasted apple fennel soup was in France when I was growing up. It had a slight sweetness from the apples with subtle licorice tones from the fennel. It had a rich creamy consistency because of the potatoes. This soup is high in fiber and completely low-fat. The original recipe called for regular potatoes but you can also use sweet potatoes and it will be creamier and less starchy.
Also known as Florence fennel or finochio, fennel is from the carrot family.
Which part is eatable: most recipes use the bulb because the stalks are hollow and a bit tough but both stalks and leaves can be used in soups. Fennel seeds are commonly used in Indian (anise and fennel seeds) and Chinese cooking (for 5-spices).
What does it taste like? Celery with a hind of licorice. The leaves look very much like dill.
Fun fact: Male fennel is round. It is the most cultivated because it produces the largest bulb. Female fennel is long and should be cooked.
Time for trivia
Which country produces the most fennel?
Answer at the end!
If you are planning on growing fennel there are a few things you should know:
– Fennel is a perennial so it will grow back year after year.
– In terms of companion planting, you should grow it in its own area because only dill will grow well with fennel. Avoid planting fennel near tomatoes, beans, or brassica. The reason is that fennel produces a substance that inhibits the growth of other plants around.
– Fennel attracts good pollinators like honey bees, wild bees, and bumblebees, beetles.
– Make sure to plant your fennel early otherwise, you will grow flat bulbs.
– When to harvest? During the cold months when bulbs are the size of a tennis ball.
Health benefits of fennel
Eating fennel raw in a salad is the most nutritious way to consume it. Roasting fennel brings the flavors out.
Fennel contains vitamin C, B-6, fiber, potassium, and folate.
Muscle relaxant and helps insomnia (fennel tea using fennel seeds)
Has estrogenic properties that balance female hormones and help reduce menopausal symptoms.
Fennel seeds have been known to break down kidney stones and lower uric acid.
Back to our soup! You can prepare it in less than 30 minutes if you roast the vegetables while cooking the other vegetables! Roasting the fennel is key in bringing out its subtle flavors. It is so easy and so good! Nevel boil or steam fennel! If you want a soup that is white, skip the sweet potato and replace it with regular potatoes. If you want a gluten-free version, skip the toasted bread and top with avocado slices and some of the fennel leaves.
Sweet Potato Apple Fennel Soup
- Lined baking tray
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1-2 medium fennel bulbs sliced
- 1 yellow onion sliced
- 2 cloves of garlic minced
- 1 sweet potato peeled and diced
- 1 crisp apple (granny smith, honey crisp)
- 5 cups vegetable broth
- 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- Salt & pepper
- 6 slices of toasted bread
- 1 clove of garlic
- 1 tbsp black sesame seeds
- avocado slices (optional)
- 1 cup cilantro leaves
Prepare the fennel
- Preheat oven to 400 F.
- Cut the stalk and leaves and set them aside.
- Slice the fennel and place in a bowl. Add 1 tbsp of oil, 1 clove of minced garlic, dash of salt and pepper and gently stir to mix.
- Place the fennel on a lined baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes.
Prepare the other vegetables
- Heat vegetable oil in a pan, add the sliced onion, minced garlic, salt and pepper.
- Peel and dice the sweet potato, and apple.
- Pour the vegetable broth over the onion and garlic, add the diced potato and apple and cook over medium heat for 15 minutes.
- Add the roasted fennel and simmer a few minutes.
- Blend the soup. Taste and season. Add more water if you want a thinner soup.
- Toast the slices of bread.
- Brush some garlic on toast.
- Pour soup into individual bowls.
- Top with toasted bread, avocado slices, fresh cilantro leaves and black sesame seeds.
Trivia answer: 2. Italy