This simple, soothing Fennel & White Bean Soup is light on the palate and on the digestive system — it does the job when treatment puts you under the weather. It’s also quick to make, especially if you use canned beans, or have some homemade on hand. It freezes well too. I like lima beans for their buttery texture, but if you’re weary, canned cannellini or Great Northern beans will work just as well. If you use canned, add an extra 4 cups of water or stock (see Ann’s Tips).Blending the soup gives it a smooth, easy to eat texture, perfect for a nutritious small plate.
1. Heat the 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the fennel seeds and let them sizzle for a minute or so. Add the onion and the diced fennel bulb and stalks. Sauté for about 2 minutes or until the vegetables start to soften. Add a generous sprinkle of sea salt, partially cover, and sweat for about 20 minutes or until the vegetables are soft and turning golden, mixing occasionally. Add ½ cup of water. Simmer until the veg are just tender but still have some bite
2. If using homemade beans, discard the bay leaf and add them along with all their cooking broth to the fennel. If using canned beans, add 4 cups of stock with the rinsed beans plus 4 cloves of peeled garlic. As the soup cooks, add more stock or water, ½ a cup at a time if desired.
3. Cook until the fennel is tender and the beans are easily mashed against the side of the pan. Smash some of the beans against the side of the pan to thicken the soup, or give it a quick burst with an immersion blender. If you like a smooth soup, blend until the soup is smooth. Stir in the chopped parsley and chopped fennel tops. Simmer for 2 minutes. Taste for seasonings and serve.
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