Saturday, September 22, 2007

Fennel white bean soup

So I got some fennel last week to make fennel apple salad, and decided to get some more after Googling around for recipes. I found this version from Grant at Well Fed. I meant to make it earlier this week, but came a little unglued when I couldn't find my Le Creuset pots. With the pots (and me) recovered, I set about cooking.
My ingredients deviated a little with the addition of some swiss chard that I'd optimistically purchased for another dish. In my head it seemed like it would taste good here, too.
Bacon also sounded like a good idea. Bacon's always a good idea, right? Of course, once I chopped everything up, I realized there was no way I was going to fit all of that and 8 cups of liquid in the Le Creuset safely, so I decided the larger stockpot could go in the oven after all.

I used vegetable broth instead of water for the liquid. In hindsight, water probably would have been just fine. The stock added more richness, almost to overkill.

I foolishly started cooking rather late. After two hours, the beans were still too chewy, and I was falling asleep, so I threw the whole shebang in the fridge and called it a night.

Today I finished cooking the soup and put the chopped-up chard in for the last half-hour, then started on the caramelized fennel finish/garnish. I was tempted to skip this out of laziness, but Grant stresses that this step really makes the dish.
It's also messy. The spatter screen needed backup.
Once the fennel is browned on all sides, you add a quarter-cup of white wine. Someone gave me this juice-box wine, thus saving me from opening a big bottle. Saving me from myself, really (*hic*).

It says 3 servings. Yeah, maybe for Thumbelina.

Do you like my measuring cup? Don't worry; I don't use it for dog food. It's just a good size for measuring small amounts.
Wow, that caramelized fennel came out all tangy and interesting. I was tempted to devour it all on the spot. But most of it went into the soup pot. I reserved some slices for garnish, along with fennel fronds.
Soup's on!

This is a mighty tasty dish, and the caramelized fennel does indeed "make" it. Next time I will soak the beans overnight first to reduce cooking time and will use water instead of stock. You get plenty of richness from the vegetables already in there.

I'm thinking it could indeed benefit from some browned chicken sausage, too. I have plenty of soup to throw in the freezer, so when I serve it next, I'll just cook up some sausage and add it.


  1. I have never cooked with fresh fennel, can you believe that? This soup looks v interesting and perfect for the cool weather that wants to make it presence felt. Would using canned white beans be too much of a no-no? I'd have to skip the bacon even though I really like it!

  2. I'm putting this on my list for when it cools down again. It sounds (and looks) good.

  3. I think canned beans would be fine. I thought about using them. but wanted to try the recipe in roughly its original form first. If you can eat chicken, I would add some sausage.

    Kris, we've got cooler weather today, so it's coming you way!