Sunday, May 1, 2016

Fennel, Garlic & Potato Soup with Fennel Frond Pesto: Healthy Vegan (Hot or Cold) Soupy Fennel Goodness for Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammie) Sundays

How much do I love fennel?! Must be a lot, judging by the number of times I have it on the menu. Bulb, fronds, seeds... it's all delicious and an excellent source of vitamin C, a very good source of fiber, folate, and potassium. Think of it as an phytonutrient and antioxidant powerhouse and a great anti-inflammatory food.     

Since locally-grown fennel was on sale this week, several bulbs came home in my shopping bag and I knew some of it was destined for the soup pot. This Fennel, Garlic and Potato Soup from Martha Rose Shulman is described as "reminiscent of the classic potato and leek soup known as vichyssoise,but it’s lighter and contains no dairy. It’s good hot or cold"--perfect for when you aren't sure what the weather wants to do or when days are feeling a bit humid. I made mine vegan and topped it with the leftover fronds, made into pesto (recipe here) and some thinly shaved bulb--lightly sautéed with fennel seeds in olive oil.

Fennel, Garlic & Potato Soup
Slightly Adapted from Martha Rose Shulman via The New York Times 
(Yields 6 Servings)

2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 large or 1 medium onion, diced
2 stalks celery, sliced
2 lbs bulb fennel, trimmed, washed and diced (reserve fronds for topping)
1 lb Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and diced
6 garlic cloves, peeled and cut in half
sea salt
bouquet garni made with a bay leaf, a couple of sprigs each parsley and thyme, 1/2 tsp fennel seeds and 1/4 tsp black peppercorns, tied in cheesecloth
2 quarts water or vegetable stock
freshly ground pepper

For garnish: chopped fresh fennel fronds, lightly crushed fennel seeds, paper-thin slices of fennel bulb, garlic croutons and/or shaved Parmesan

Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy soup pot or Dutch oven over medium heat and add the onion, celery, chopped fennel and a generous pinch of salt. Cook gently for about 5 to 8 minutes, until the vegetables have softened and lost some of their volume. Add the potatoes, garlic, bouquet garni and the water or stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, add salt to taste, cover and simmer 45 minutes.

Remove the bouquet garni. Blend the soup until smooth with an immersion blender, or ladle into a blender, working in 1 1/2-cup batches. Remove the center from the blender cover, place a towel over the cover and pull it down tightly to prevent splashing. Blend and return to the pot. Heat through, add salt and pepper to taste and serve, or chill and serve cold, with your choice of garnishes.

This will be good for 2 to 3 days. Whisk the soup before reheating or serving cold. 

Nutritional Info: per serving--not including pesto: (6 servings): 159 calories; 5 grams fat; 1 gram saturated fat; 1 gram polyunsaturated fat; 3 grams monounsaturated fat; 0 milligrams cholesterol; 28 grams carbohydrates; 7 grams dietary fiber; 105 milligrams sodium (does not include salt to taste); 4 grams protein


Fennel Frond Pesto
Slightly Adapted from The New York Times
(Makes about 2/3 Cup) 

1 heaping cup fennel fronds, roughly chopped
2 3 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp slivered almonds (or nut of choice--I used cashews this time)
(I added 2 Tbsp lemon juice)
1/2 tsp sea salt
(I added 1/2 tsp black  pepper)
1/4-1/3 cup olive oil

Combine the fennel fronds, garlic, almonds, lemon juice and salt in a food processor or blender and pulse until the mixture is chopped up. Drizzle in the olive oil until the mixture reaches desired consistency, scraping the sides of the blender or food processor as needed.   

Serve pesto at once, store in the fridge for up to a week or freeze up to one month.


Notes/Results: So much great flavor in this fennel soup and rich and creamy without any dairy, which I love. The potatoes, garlic and herb balance out the fennel well, although--especially with the toppings, this is a definitely fennel-forward soup, which makes me very happy. If you aren't familiar with fennel, I hate describing it because it's hard--you do have to mention the licorice/anise flavor which was a bit of a turnoff for me until I tried it and realized it wasn't like popping a piece of black licorice in my mouth. ;-) It's just really cooling, good, and has a certain herbal taste that I love and that like many veggies, slightly changes depending on whether you eat it raw, sauté it, roast it, bake it, or grill it. I find the green part of the stalk and the seeds to have the most anise flavor, with the white bulb and fronds having a mellower flavor--so if unsure, start with those parts. And do save those fennel fronds and make the pesto! I adore it and with the lemon, it brightens up the soup nicely and would be amazing on pasta or bread as well. This soup is good both warm and cold, not too heavy but satisfying, and it smells incredible while cooking. I will definitely make it again! 

Some good friends came bearing soup at last week's Souper (Soup, Salad, & Sammie) Sundays linkup, here's a recap of what was posted--everything looked so good, I had to feature them all! ;-)

Like me, Tina of Squirrel Head Manor enjoys soup even when the weather turns humid, especially when it's a bowl of Bacon, Corn and Potato Chowder. She says, "Now that the whining about the heat is out of the way let me present a wonderfully rich bowl of soup. Yes, it would be better welcomed in the cool Fall months. Call me crazy but I love soup year round. No matter the temperature, I like a bowl of soup for lunch. Look, I also made a fresh baguette to go with it." Check out her post and her tip for mess-free corn 'shaving' too! 

Joyce of Kitchen Flavours made Nigella's aromatic Vietnamese Pork Noodle Soup and says, "Quick and easy to cook, and tastes great! For the noodles, instead of ramen noodles, I've used fresh yellow noodles, which just need a quick blanch in hot boiling water. I did not use baby bok choy, but have replaced with Chinese Choy Sum, the last batch of  choy sum harvest, from my container garden. They are tender and delicious! ... I've made this for lunch, but it would be great as a one-dish meal for dinner, or even breakfast. We, Asians, love having noodles for breakfast!"

Joyce of Joy 'N' Escapade tried Madhur Jaffrey's stewy Red Lentil Dhal and says, "I cooked a pot of red lentil dhal (dal), my toddler's favorite stew and mine too. Both of us can easily drink bowls of dhal as our ultimate comfort food. :)  I really love digging into this bowl of chunky dhal stew."

Sue of Couscous & Consciousness tried a raw version of Curtis Stone's Quick Curry Noodle Soup using veggie noodles! (A woman after my own heart!) She says, "Obviously, because this is a raw version, it's not a hot soup, but there's actually plenty of heat comes through from the chilli, so it was still plenty comforting even on an autumn evening.  The wild card I guess in my version was the beetroot - not something that you would generally expect to find with these bold Asian flavours, but the sweet yet earthy flavour of the beets actually worked surprisingly well, and there's no doubt that they certainly add some visual impact to the dish.  I would have no hesitation including them again."

Claudia of Honey From Rock made a fabulous Mulligatawny Soup inspired by a fun mystery series that I want to read. She says, "The original version of this soup consisted of a broth from lentils, fried onions and curry powder. Today it normally designates a thickened soup that is strongly spiced with curry powder and nutmeg. Often, strips of vegetables, nuts and rice are added."  Anglo-Indian food then, and appropriate for English royalty. ... Simply delectable, and not really difficult.  Well worth it.  Don't you just love the sound of it, Mulligatawny, Mulligatawny, tra la la la, sing along with me.  And the taste more than lives up to expectations."

And, Vicki of I'd Rather Be At The Beach brings Slow Cooker Chicken Taco Soup and says, "This was really good, lots of taco flavor and the ratio of the ingredients was perfect. I was going to eat a hard crusty bread with it but we had some left over cornbread from the night before and Anthony said he was going to eat that instead. So I did too, not sure I’d like it with the soup. I shouldn’t have worried, they were really good together."

So, yes, if you hadn't noticed, Souper Sundays is back with a new format of a picture link each week where anyone interested can post their soups, salads or sandwiches and then a recap of (some, OK usually all of...) the entries on the following week  (If you are not familiar with Souper Sundays, you can read about of the origins of it here.)   

Thanks to everyone who linked up last week!

If you would like to join in Souper (Soup, Salad, and Sammie) Sundays I would love to have you! Here's how...

To join in this week's linkup with your soup, salad or sandwich:
  • Link up your soup (stew, chili, soupy curries, etc. are fine), salad, or sandwich dish, (preferably one from the current week or month--but we'll take older posts too) on the picture link below and leave a comment on this post so I am sure not to miss you.
On your entry post (on your blog):
  • please mention Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammies) Sundays at Kahakai Kitchen and link back to this post.
  • you are welcome to add the wonderful Souper Sundays logo (created by Ivy at Kopiaste) to your post and/or blog (optional). 

Have a happy, healthy week!


  1. I have got to try that fennel frond pesto, it sounds amazing. Can't believe I've wasted those greens over the years.

    1. I used to make a salad dressing out of them sometimes Claudia, but the pesto is so darn good! ;-)

      Thanks for joining in SS last week.

  2. I adore fennel, and I just love that you actually managed to use it three ways here. Fennel frond pesto sounds amazing - I so totally wouldn't have thought of that. It's brilliant and I can't wait to give that a try.

    1. Thanks Sue! It is a really yummy pesto--hope you like it.
      Thanks for sharing your soup at SS last week! ;-)

  3. But what good these soups I love them and as soon as I can I make ! Compliments are very inviting ! :-D Bacione , good evening

  4. I saw fennel just the other day in our grocery store and now I wish I bought it. Great soup. I linked up with a pasta salad today :-)


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