This simple, soothing soup is light on the palate and easy on the digestive system. Packed with plant-based protein and tons of fiber from the beans, it hits the mark when you’re aiming for... small, frequent meals. Leftovers freeze well, and this recipe is very quick to make if using canned beans. Canned cannellini beans or great northern beans work well for this soup, but buttery dried lima beans are a great substitute, too.
Heat the 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. Saute for about 2 minutes or until the vegetables start to soften. Add a generous sprinkle of salt and ½ cup of water, partially cover and sweat for about 20 minutes or until the vegetables are tender but still have some bite, stirring occasionally.
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.
Cook until the fennel is tender and the beans are easily mashed against the side of the pan. Smash some of the beans to thicken the soup, or give it a quick burst with an immersion blender. If you like a smooth soup, blend thoroughly. Stir in the chopped parsley and chopped fennel tops. Simmer for 2 minutes. Taste for seasonings and serve.
Unlike homemade beans, always drain and rinse canned beans before using them. Canned bean liquid is loaded with salt.
For a silky smooth texture, blend the soup thoroughly. This will ensure the soup is easy to swallow.