Anise… licorice … none of that ever sounded appetizing to me, probably because the taste of black licorice thoroughly sceeved me out. Then, I started hearing about the vegetable called fennel. Being the Dego that I am, I payed attention since it was being used in so many Italian dishes. But then, I started hearing the “licorice ” to describe it. Needless to say, I’ve avoided this vegetable for, let’s say 24 years.
Alright, Mario Batali, after countless episodes of The Chew, you have persuaded me to give it a shot.
I found a chicken and apple soup recipe that called toasted fennel seeds. After a little research I found the conversation from seeds to vegetable, and I’m glad I did because I believe it definitely bulks up the soup. This was also my first time pulling apples into a soup, which I was nervous would make it too sweet. I believe that by playing with the combination of spices off sets the sweetness that the apples contribute. The last minute add-in was a small can of sliced carrots, for some color and a little more natural sweetness. This first batch went so quickly, I used raw carrots the next round (see note in recipe).
If you are anything like me, and are completely clueless about fennel prep, I found this great tutorial here. I had no idea there was a hard fibrous center to core out.
Chicken Apple Soup
Inspired by Wholefoods
Makes 8- 1 cup servings
- 4 cups reduced fat, lower sodium chicken broth
- 1 cup water
- 1 lb chicken breast, boneless, skinless
- 1 1/4 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp salt
- 3/4 tsp ground black pepper
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 cup carrots, sliced into coins, OR a small can of sliced*
- 1/2 lb (8oz) turnip
- 2 medium gala apples
- 1 medium to large onion
- 1 bulb fennel
- 2 1/4 tsp garlic powder
- 2 tsp ground sage
Preheat the oven to 425 F while you prep. Place chicken breast in a soup pot along with chicken broth, water, cumin, salt, pepper, and bay leaves. Cover with a lid and keep over low heat.
*If using raw carrots, place in the pot, now, as well.
Peel the turnips, cut in half and each half into thirds. This will help you differentiate between the difference veggies. Next, peel and core the apples, cut into quarters, and the quarters into more bite sized pieces. Peel the onion, trim the ends, cut into quarters, and the quarters into thirds. You don’t need to separate the rings of the onions prior to roasting. Lastly, following the instructions in the link above, cut about an inch above the bulb, then cut off the base. Cut down its center, and remove the tough outer layer, as well as the triangle-shaped core in each half of the bulb. Slice what remains to a size of your liking.
Line a 9 by 13 Pyrex with parchment and transfer your prepped fruit and veggies. Sprinkle the garlic powder and sage over the fruit and veg and give them a good toss with your hands. Pour about 3/4 cup of water to the dish, cover with foil and roast in the oven about 40 minutes. After 40 minutes, remove the foil from the Pyrex and carefully pick out the turnips (this is where the different sized turnip will help you), while giving the remaining fruit and vegetables a toss. Once the turnip has been removed, return the Pyrex to the oven, uncovered, for an additional 15 minutes.
Transfer the roasted turnips into a food processor and begin to puree. Feel free the add a bit of the broth to help get things moving. Transfer puree to pot of broth and and chicken.
When your fruit and veg have finished the last bit of the roast, transfer everything from the pryex into your soup pot, scraping any seasoning and whatnot off the parchment.
*If using canned, sliced carrots, add those now.
Remove the chicken breast to a separate bowl or plate, and use the two-fork technique to shred the chicken. Transfer the shredded chicken back into the pot, cover, and allow to simmer for another 40 minutes, or longer if you’d like. Salt and pepper to taste.
If you reserved any of the fronds of the fennel, top your soup with it before serving; parsley does wonders, as well. And don’t forget those oyster crackers (yeah, they’re kind of my thing, now).
The original recipe called for a crockpot, but a low simmer, covered pot did me just fine. And I think I’d have to say that this soup tastes even better the next day, as all the flavors really enhance and marry!
Nutrition (1/8 of recipe):
Calories:119, Fat: 2g, Sat. Fat: 0g, Cholesterol: 28mg, Sodium: 807mg, Carbs: 14g, Fiber: 4g, Sugars: 9g, Protein: 13g
The end result? Fennel is officially a staple on my grocery list. And I threw out that 1-cup per serving jib-jab. A double serving in each bowl, please! Oh, and the aroma! The smell in the air was enough to cue your salivary glands! As soon as I entered the kitchen its fragrance wrapped around me with a come hither sensation!
Whats your food freaker? I’m still not touching sardines! Leave your comment below!