Fresh off the island of Grand Cayman, and I’m already sick. Again. What gives! I seriously cannot catch a break this year with sinus infections, colds, and everything else that has to do with my nose and throat. So, I have decided to stop complaining (after this short little rant), and start making more of an effort to take better care of myself. Yes, I realize we are days away from New Year’s Eve, but you have to start somewhere! That’s where this incredibly tasty and healing fennel soup with lemon comes in.
I found this recipe in one of my favorite cookbooks, Soups for Syria. It’s a book by acclaimed chefs all over the world, who have come together to help food relief efforts to alleviate the suffering of Syrian refugees. It’s got a ton of great recipes, and naturally when I woke up feeling even worse today than yesterday, I pulled it out and went to work on this mouth-watering dish by one of my favorite chefs Greg Malouf.
My cooking style has changed so much over the past few years since Albert and I got together (for the better). His family is Lebanese, so I’ve had many different influences in cooking that I never would have been able to experience without them. I used to run to a box of comforting Lipton soup when I was feeling flu-like (and I’m not knocking that at all), but now, I try to use foods as more of healing mechanisms when I’m ill. Just last week his mom showed me an amazing trick to heal an upset stomach quickly using natural ingredients. She boiled anise seeds in water for 5 minutes, and made it into a tea. It literally cured my stomach in minutes, and tasted amazing! The healing power of food is pretty cool :).
The fresh and vibrant flavors from the lemon and fennel, really balance out the potato, leek, lemon, and chicken stock. I can’t describe how tasty this soup was – AND EASY! I also topped it with a pinch of saffron, which gave it added depth, color, and flavor. I’m obsessed with saffron :).
You can easily make this vegetarian as well by using vegetable stock instead of chicken. I will stress the importance of using a good stock however. I really love all the new frozen stocks they are coming out with – they are jam packed with flavor, much more so than the cartons. You can also use Better than Bouillon – I LOVE that stuff!
I also like to utilize as much as the fennel as possible (I LOVE FENNEL), so I saved some of the stems to top the soup with.
The other amazing thing about this soup is all of the natural healing properties of the ingredients. Here are just a few:
- Cinnamon – Can lower your bad cholesterol, has antifungal, antibacterial, and even antiviral properties, can help treat the symptoms of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, may have anti-carcinogenic properties, and has anti-inflammatory properties.
- Fennel – Is high in calcium, lowers blood pressure, aids digestion, and much more.
- Lemon – Bowel cleansing, rich in vitamin c, detoxifier, alleviates allergens, anti-viral, and much more.
So…. if you are feeling as under the weather as I am, or, just in the mood for a freakin awesome soup, make this tonight!!! I promise you will love it!
(Recipe slightly adapted from Greg Malouf)
Healing Fennel Soup With Lemon
Yield 6 servings
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oi
2 onions, sliced in rounds
2 large garlic cloves, chopped
2 leeks, the whites roughly chopped
3 large fennel bulbs, sliced (stems reserved for topping)
2 medium russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
6 cups chicken stock (or vegetable stock if vegetarian)
1 cinnamon stick
Peel of 1/2 a lemon
1/2 tsp. allspice
2 bay leaves
salt and pepper, to taste
2 tsp. consome
2 egg yolks
1/2 cup plain unsweetened coconut milk
2 lemons, juiced
1 tsp. umami powder (optional)
Pinch of saffron
Heat the oil in a large heavy-based saucepan and sauté the onions, garlic, leeks and fennel for about ten minutes, or until they soften. Add the potatoes and chicken stock, then the cinnamon stick, lemon peel, allspice, salt and pepper, consome, umami powder, and bay leaves. Bring to the boil, then lower the heat and simmer gently for 20 minutes. Remove and discard the cinnamon stick, lemon peel and bay leaves, and season to taste with salt and pepper.
In a separate bowl, mix the egg yolks with the coconut milk, then ladle in a spoonful of the hot soup. This is an important step - this ensures that the egg yolks don't cook when you put them into the soup. Whisk together well, then tip the egg mixture into the soup. Slowly return the soup to just below boiling, stirring it all the time. Remove from the heat and adjust the seasoning, with extra salt and pepper and finally, add in the lemon juice.
As you serve, drizzle each bowl with extra virgin olive oil in a circular motion, and sprinkle with a little parsley, saffron, and fennel stems. Enjoy!