If you are born and raised in the South then there are certain foods you have tried by the time you are two years old. Fried chicken, collard greens, okra, cornbread, and field peas to name a few. These staple items of Southern cuisine are what we call “soul food.” As a kid nearly every dinner included one of these items. However, every now and again my mother would get outside of her comfort zone and introduce us to something new and exciting! The day she prepared Calamari was definitely a day my brother and I will not forget!
That adventurous spirit stuck with me and today the Bain family is always trying new and exciting dishes! Enter Fennel… We started growing it because Rachel at Hawkins Homestead Farm expressed how good it smelled. 2019 was a good year for growing it too! We experimented with different ways of using it, but the recipe to follow is by far our favorite! We modified a recipe we found online to match our flavor preferences and increased the amounts to stretch the meal a few days.
- 2 onions, chopped coarsely
- 2 fennel bulbs and fronds
- 5 cups chicken broth
- 1 can cannellini beans
- 1 can diced tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 bay leaf
- 4 cups chopped kale
- 16 oz Italian sausage
- Garlic salt (always to taste)
- Pull out your chopping knife, cutting board, can opener, and large sauce pan.
- We used fresh kale from the garden so it needed a good washing and then was chopped and set aside
- Chop onions and fennel and set to the side.
- Open cannellini beans, rinse and set aside.
- Open diced tomatoes, drain and set aside.
- Brown Italian sausage in sauce pan. Depending on your tolerance for oil you may need to rinse before going to the next step. We did not.
- Add chopped onion and fennel and saute until slightly brown.
- Add beans, tomatoes, thyme, & bay leaf.
- Bring to a boil.
- Reduce heat to low, cover and allow to simmer 25 minutes
- Add Kale cook 5 – 10 more minutes, until kale is wilted.
- Add garlic salt to taste.
We prepared garlic butter rolls & toast with our soup, using a few fronds as garnish! All you heard at the dinner table was slurping! I could not have been more pleased with ease of preparation and flavor of this dish.
Since we doubled up on some of the ingredients, we were able to stretch this meal for another dinner and also leftovers for lunch! Also, just as we substituted spinach for kale, you could easily have used mustard greens or collards. Since they require longer cooking time, add them right away to your simmer.
We hope you give this dish a try with your family. Years from now you will fondly remember the day you had White Bean Fennel Soup!