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Monday, March 25, 2013

Fabulous Fennel

The veggy patch is in full production. We picked 3 kg of runner beans yesterday, ate some with dinner last night and I blanched and froze the rest. There's another similar amount of beans almost ready to pick. I can see us getting sick of beans fairly soon.

The Florence fennel is getting quite big ~ so today I picked 3 bulbs that were bigger than a clenched fist and decided to make soup. It was a great way to use up some home grown potatoes, onions and spinach too. I made fresh chicken stock from yesterdays roast chicken carcass, celery, onion, carrot and a bay leaf but I have used stock cubes/powder in this recipe before and you still get a good result.

Creamy Fennel Soup:
1 large onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, sliced
1 tbsp olive oil
a knob of butter
3 large fennel bulbs, cleaned and chopped
reserve a few of the fennel fronds
600g potatoes, peeled and chopped
900ml chicken stock
100 ml milk or cream or a mixture of both
salt and white pepper

a handful of spinach or silver beet leaves, shredded
3 rashers of streaky bacon, chopped

Heat the oil and butter in a large saucepan (or stock pot). Add the onion, garlic and fennel then sprinkle with a little salt and stir. Put the lid on and cook gently just to sweat them, you don't want to colour them, just soften them up. It will take about 10 minutes.

Next add the chopped potatoes and the chicken stock, bring to the boil and reduce the heat to a gentle simmer. Cook for 20 minutes or so until the potatoes are tender.

Remove the pot from the heat and using either a stick blender (my preference) or a jug type blender process until the soup is smooth and free of any lumps. Return to the pan, add the milk/cream and stir whilst gently warming. Avoid boiling the soup at this stage as it could split. Taste and season well with salt and white pepper. Add a few snipped up fennel fronds and stir through.

Keep the soup hot while you make the topping:
Dry fry the streaky bacon until it's crispy, then add the shredded greens. Stir for a few minutes until the greens are wilted. Pour the soup into bowls and top with the bacon garnish.
Makes 6 servings.

If you are making the soup you could go the whole hog and make this bread to go with it:

I used the same recipe but divided the dough into 2 rustic cobs and proved until doubled in size, then baked them for 15 mins each in my mini oven (I still don't have the proper oven installed).

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