Fragrant Fennel

Fragrant Fennel

The lady at the checkout line of the local grocer stared at the stout-bulbed feathery fronds with a mixture of perplexion and annoyance. Guiltily, I explained, “It’s fennel”. “What do you do with it?”,  she countered. She really ought to be on G+, I thought.

Of course, try out David Crowley ‘s hearty winter soup, what else? The goodness of potatoes, cabbage and carrots taken to a higher plane with the fragrance of fennel. I substituted a vegetable broth, allowed my husband to add his secret ingredient (psst, a few drops of Angostura bitters) and topped it off with sundried tomatoes, slivers of jalapeno, ribboned sage from the garden, dashes of pepper (red chilli and black) and grated Parmesan.

What do you like to do with fennel? 🙂

David’s Recipe:

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80 Responses to Fragrant Fennel

  1. It sounds as if the grocery clerk was giving you a fennel exam.

  2. Jim Carver says:

    I’ve never used the foliage I don’t think. Oh maybe once. I usually have the seeds around for sausage.

  3. Rajini Rao says:

    Hiya, Feisal Kamil ! Just finished dinner 🙂

  4. Gregory Esau says:

    That is mouth watering!! (and inspiring….)

  5. Rajini Rao says:

    Sean Carolan , I also love sundried tomato pesto on pasta 🙂

    I don’t think the lady carroted at all about my tastes, William McGarvey .

    Jim Carver , I don’t have much experience using celery seeds. Ought to try them out. Edit: ooops, why am I rambling about celery seeds. Of course, I use fennel seeds. All the time.

  6. I am not sure on how fennel should be treated differently to dill. They look similarly, and have something common in taste, but not too much.

    Dill is very important to pickling, I wonder if fennel can replace dill in there and bring an interesting twist? Or would it just ruin it?

  7. Jim Carver says:

    Rajini Rao  Celery? Yeah I love that too. I was talking about fennel seeds. haha!

  8. Rajini Rao says:

    Oleg Mihailik , one only uses the fronds of dill, no? In the case of fennel, it is the bulb that carries most of the flavor.

    I use a lot of fennel seed for Indian cooking. I used to confuse it with aniseed, but there is a difference.

  9. Rajini Rao says:

    LOL, I just caught that and edited my comment Jim Carver . My brain is addled.

  10. Jim Carver says:

    You can use dill seed or weed, they both have the same flavor. That’s not always true.

    Mine too, I got up too early. Rajini Rao 

  11. Thanks for that clarification Rajini Rao about aniseed; I also thought fennel and aniseed were the same.

    The soup looks like an epicurean delight.

  12. Rajini Rao says:

    Thanks, Oksana Szulhan ! And they are both different from the Chinese star anise 🙂

  13. That part I know, Rajini Rao :=)  Back to preparing Thanksgiving dinner.

  14. Rajini Rao says:

    Of course, Happy (Canadian) Thanksgiving! Oksana Szulhan 

  15. Rajini Rao says:

    Do tag me if you share the lasagna recipe, sheri palmer . I’d love to try it. Roasted veggies are pure concentrated flavor, yum 🙂

  16. Wendy Cohoon says:

    I saute onion and garlic in olive oil, sometimes with cut up chunks of sausage. I throw in a rinsed can of kidney beans (or some other bean). I cut strips on fennel (anise at my grocery stores) and throw then in. Then I add some kind of leafy veg like swiss chard or kale and  some parsley or dill or the fennel fronds, salt and fresh cracked pepper and toss this to wilt the veg. I sprinkle in lemon juice and toss just before serving. It makes a complete meal.

  17. Jim Carver says:

    Is the cuisine any different in Canada for Thanksgiving than the US? I’m sure you guys know what the Traditional fare is here. Any differences?

  18. Jon Hiller says:

    If you boil off the leaf oils of Fennel, you can mix the extract with an oil (I prefer olive oil) as a massage, or aromatherapy as well.  It’s a very versatile plant. 

  19. Rajini Rao says:

    Does it have the consistency of a stew, Wendy Cohoon , or more dry? I love both Swiss Chard and Kale, but I bought a bunch of mustard greens this weekend because they looked so fresh. Wondering what to do with them….

  20. Rajini Rao says:

    Jon Hiller , turns out that fennel oil is mostly anethol

    Anethol is 13 times sweeter than sugar and used in Ouzo and Pernod. Also the Lebanese liquor that I am blanking on arak, turns milky when mixed with water.

  21. Wendy Cohoon says:

    +Jim Carver For Thanksgiving my family had turkey, stuffing, gravy, mashed taters, squash, broccoli, green beans, brussel sprouts, cranberry, pickles, cheese, pickled beets, pumpkin pie, apple pie, and real whipped cream. Last year we had all that and kapusta and sweet potato. Some years we also have cabbage rolls. The kapusta and the cabbage rolls come from my Polish roots.

  22. Jim Carver says:

    Rajini Rao Stick with the mustard greens and kale. Swiss chard has a lot of oxalic acid like rhubarb, etc. well they all have some, but…

    I like to put a small amount of oil and stir fry the chopped greens for a minute, this brings out the color and then you add other vegetables and seasonings and cook until tender. Broth is a great help as opposed to water.

  23. Jim Carver says:

    Wendy Cohoon Sounds like you guys are more eclectic than the average American. haha But not me. We had crab legs and shrimp creole gumbo last year.

    Anyway it was a lot of seafood.

  24. I’m not a huge fan of fennel, but this does look good.

  25. Wendy Cohoon says:

    Rajini Rao It is more like a stir fry or a hot salad. I have never used mustard greens they are not available at the grocery stores I shop at. But I am sure they would be good too. I have used spinach, and chopped collards in this dish and they are good too, I sometimes substitute the acid for lime juice or a vinegar also. I have thought rapini would be good this way also.

  26. The Options Menu should not stop at View Ripples (which for some reason does not work on photos of soup or of still ponds – no ripples appear). It should also have ‘Beam down a Plateful.’ Otherwise images like that are exquisite torture.

  27. Thank you for this – I shall have to try it!

  28. Rajini Rao says:

    It’s a mild version of fennel, Jennifer Bennett , because of the carrot/potato/cabbage in it. I forgot to add that I used some light cream as well..that made it even milder (hence the kicking up with jalapeno etc.).

    I get it, Wendy Cohoon , I can picture it right now!

  29. Kunal Rohit says:

    Not a big fan of fennel but anything with Angostura bitter sounds good!!

  30. Rajini Rao says:

    Hah, kunal rohit , I  bet you don’t use Angostura bitters in soup 😉

  31. Jim Carver says:

    I don’t know what Angostura bitters are. Do they go good in beer? We should ask Bob Calder he knows all about that stuff.

  32. Jon Hiller says:

    Rajini Rao ok that was hilarious.. re:  I  bet you don’t use Angostura bitters in soup ;)

  33. Post to remember to cook myself. 

  34. Kunal Rohit says:

    Use it in my “nimbu sodas” but not in soups, would have to try it next time.

  35. Jon Hiller says:

    Jim Carver think of it as the “bitters” us Americans use to make a mixed drink.  

  36. Yum! Your version looks great, thanks for sharing. It is funny when cashiers get so perplexed with unfamiliar vegetables. Fennel is also good roasted….I”m sure I’ll be doing some of that soon.

  37. Jon Hiller says:

    Angostura bitters was also made I belive by the Benedictine Monks who were taught the elixir while on the silk road.  Sorry Rajini Rao for taking your post in a complete opposite direction.  Back to your hearty winter soup 🙂

  38. Rajini Rao says:

    There was much consternation a few years ago when Angostura bitters were in short supply. O_o

    Rachel Maddow even did a show on it:

  39. Jim Carver says:

    I hope she’s not too bitter about it.

  40. Rajini Rao says:

    Hijack away, Jon Hiller . We’re souped out any way. Why did the bottle have those oddly huge labels, I wonder.

    Thank you for the recipe, David Crowley . As you can see, we are all enjoying it. Fennel would be great roasted, I agree!

  41. Thank you for the recipe, love fennel, love home made soups and now here is another one to try. It looks delicious.

  42. Looks fantastic.  I was reminded by the stories my Lebanese grandparents told me of when the family first came to America.  They would go to grape vines and pluck off the leaves.  People looked at them like they were crazy.  “You should pick the grapes, not the leaves!”

    Of course, they would use the leaves for stuffed grape leaves!

  43. Rajini Rao says:

    Haha, another great anecdote David Anthony . I remember the one of your dad’s stash of liquor (was it arak?) that the family discovered years later. Stuffed grape leaves, mmm. The perfect finger food!

  44. That sounds good!  Surprisingly, the bitters sound good, too.  I use them a lot in drinks but hadn’t thought about them in cooking!

  45. Omar gosh, that looks delicious and the recipe, especially your variation, looks fantastic. I’m adding this to my list immediately! Thank you so much for sharing.

  46. Oh dear, I’m drooling!

  47. Rajini Rao says:

    Hehe, that’s I photographed a napkin too, Terry Hallett 🙂

  48. Kevin Clift says:

    My newsletter for The Wedge Co-op just arrived.  It has an interesting-looking recipe for Roasted Vegetable Baklava that people in this thread might enjoy:

  49. Looks good Kevin Clift 

    Interesting site, thank you.

  50. Rajini Rao says:

    Kevin Clift , that recipe has to be a winner. How can one go wrong roasting vegetables (parsnips!!fennel!!Yukon Gold!!) and then tucking them into puff pastry with nuts (I will admit to not having enough patience with phyllo). Thanks, I’m always looking for vegetarian options for Thanksgiving to inflict upon my carnivorous friends 😉

  51. Kevin Clift says:

    As you probably know Rajini Rao the Puff Pastry may not meet the requirements of your stricter friends as it can be made with butter.

  52. Jim Carver says:

    Kevin Clift Too many root vegetables. You need balance and that just doesn’t have it.

  53. Rajini Rao says:

    I do cook with milk products, being a vegetarian rather than a vegan. I recently found that substituting ground cashews for cream works wonderfully for my vegan friends. 

  54. Rajini Rao says:

    What do you suggest in the mix, Jim Carver ? I think something like peppers, even though they roast up nicely, would not stand up to the root veg. Better to have a separate dish for the tomatoes, peppers, etc. don’t you think?

  55. Kevin Clift says:

    Yes I’ve done this too – they’re scrumptious and there’s no waste (;.

  56. Kevin Clift says:

    That’s your opinion Jim Carver .  Roasted root vegetables are quite a different proposition than steamed or boiled.

  57. Jim Carver says:

    Rajini Rao Say, I’ve been wanting to ask you this but I haven’t found the right time. No time like the present I guess.

    Do you eat beef?

  58. Rajini Rao says:

    Jim Carver , how could it have escaped your attention that I am a vegetarian? 🙂 By way of explanation, I was raised that way. So it is a case of mental squeamishness. Since I pride myself on logic, I tell myself that if I was stranded on a desert island, I might eat anything. But I’m not sure of that. I once put a slice of white pizza in my mouth, not realizing that it was loaded with seafood, and the gag reflex made my eyes water. Right, no beef either. 

  59. Jim Carver says:

    Rajini Rao Well I wasn’t sure and yes I did read your blog and it was hilarious. But I didn’t know what your current status was. I thought that you might eat chicken. You don’t appear to be fat so I don’t have to say watch the carbs.

  60. Rajini Rao says:

    I’ll be sure to watch that waistline 😀

  61. Kevin Clift says:

    I’ve shared this before with a couple of people here but for anyone else that wants to try roasted vegetables in the winter here’s a guide (assuming you don’t want to just experiment):

  62. Jim Carver says:

    You know I probably could be a vegetarian no problem, never vegan though. Most of the veggies I’ve met are lifeless and boring. How do you maintain your vibrant attitude and mental faculties? Or is it all just vitamins and drugs? 😀

  63. Rajini Rao says:

    LOL, since I’m not boring (?), it must be drugs 😛

  64. Rajini Rao says:

    Thanks, Kevin Clift , I’ll check it out. 

    For the record, I just don’t miss the meat. Because, I’m not the suffering sort, if I missed it, I would eat it. 

  65. Kevin Clift says:

    It wasn’t me that was talking about meat so I’ll assume that part was for Jim Carver .

  66. Jim Carver says:

    My part was too many root vegetables Kevin. Wrapped in a wheat thing. I think even a vegetarian needs a little better balance than that. I know you’re from England and they are not really known for any kind of culinary prowess. That’s where we get the boiled-to-death vegetables is from your country. If I sound condescending that’s because I am. Nobody from England ever came up with anything that is a great hit. Save a silly pot roast.

  67. Kevin Clift says:

    No one is asking them to eat only this.

  68. Rajini Rao says:

    Yes, that’s right Kevin Clift – too lazy to comment separately 🙂

    Jim Carver , where did you find that broad brush that you are painting with today? 🙂

  69. Jim Carver says:

    Rajini Rao I’ve had a bad attitude all day. But it is true about English cooking. They had one good chef back in the 60s, the Galloping Gourmet. But what he cooked was mostly French! haha ;D

  70. Rajini Rao says:

    Old school British cooking was bland, but these days the country is so vibrant and cosmopolitan what with influx of immigrants, for one. I remember eating a little pizza in the lake district with “rockets” as they call their baby arugula scattered on top, it was simply delicious.

  71. Jim Carver says:

    Ok, well taken, but it took the English an influx of immigrants to make it that way. Left to their own devices they would have eaten the same old crap they had for centuries. It took the North American Indians with the chilis to make food more interesting around the world. Right here, and just south of here is where it all came from. So why didn’t they adopt it? Besides the fact that they are stuffy and lame? Didn’t need to. It’s only when you have a bland diet of mostly carbs do you have to spice it up a bit. The English and the French were so drowning in their sauces that they didn’t have to…it’s true.

  72. Kevin Clift says:

    If you’d like to improve your mind Jim Carver listen to some of these:

    The Food Programme



    You might especially like this one on the Food and Farming Awards:

    1st October 2012 (MP3):

  73. Rajini Rao says:

    The BBC link to Blue Cheeses reminded me of a trip to Wensleydale, N. Yorkshire in a little town called Hawes. They liked to boast of their smelliest cheeses (featured in the movie Wallace and Gromit) 🙂

  74. “Lawdy, Lawdy — thank you Cheeses!   Say hallelujah!”

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