Isa’s Roasted Potato and Fennel Soup

I never gave fennel much thought until I moved to Los Angeles.

I think when I first saw a meal that asked for fennel, I was like “Fennel? Fennel… Isn’t that the seed usually on sausage?”

Screen Shot 2019-10-19 at 6.13.11 PM

How I looked when I learned about fennel 

In fairness to myself, the mid-west is surprisingly not big on vegetables, despite being a farming community.

Mid-west cuisine is like Texas’s square little brother. We don’t like spice and we aren’t as big, but we wanna deep fry everything. I do mean everything… Vegetable tempura is a big hit over there.

My world opened when I was introduced to fennel. That tangy licorice of a vegetable put a spark into my culinary experience.

It’s no surprise to me that Isa is a fan of fennel herself. So, Isa, from Isa Does It, take us on this vegan magic carpet ride and open us to a whole new world filled with fennel.

What you’ll need

  • 2 pounds of Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into 1-inch chunks
  • Olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 2 fennel bulbs
  • 1 large yellow onion, sliced 1/2 inch thick
  • 2 cups of vegetable broth
  • 2 cups of unsweetened soy milk or almond milk

The first step involves roasting our potatoes. To do so, pre-heat the oven to 425.

While the oven is heating up, whip out two baking sheets lined with parchment paper. One sheet will be for the potatoes and the other for the fennel.

Drizzle olive oil on top of the potatoes in the potato pan and sprinkle them with 1/2 teaspoon of salt and a little bit of pepper. Roast these puppies for 15 minutes.

While the potatoes are roasting, go ahead and prepare the fennel pan. To do so, slice the fennel bulbs into 1/2 inch slices and then toss it in the other pan along with the onions, olive oil, the remaining salt, and the pepper.

Once the 15 minutes are up for the potatoes, flip them like pancakes and put them back into the oven on the top rack along with the fennel. The fennel is the star of this two ring circus and should be placed in the middle rack.

Roast for 10 more minutes, then flip the fennel like pancakes and roast for an additional 5-10 minutes.

At this point, we should be ready to get the handy dandy food processor or immersion blender out to do some food dissection.

With either method you choose, before you start snipping away blindly, you’ll want to add the potatoes, fennel, milk and broth together. Once all these ingredients are together, that’s when we start processing. Don’t go too crazy, though, we want to keep a nice chunky texture, especially with the potatoes.

When you reach that perfect Goldilocks texture of just right, it’s time to ladle this baby into some bowls and garnish it up like the culinary artist you are!

IMG_1587

Apologies for my lack of photo skills by the way. I really should wait til the magic hour to photograph my handiwork.

Moving on, this is a nice hearty soup that I think would be ideal for winter time. Winter makes me want to carbo load and eat lots of potatoes. Has to be the Irish blood in me I guess.

Sadly, some time has passed since I made this and I can’t readily recall how it turned out. I do remember enjoying it and I think it reminded me of a soupy mashed potatoes. I recognize that sounds kind of gross, but I know it was in a good way, otherwise I’d recall not liking this dish.

So mediocre review aside, I do recommend you try this recipe out. Especially if you live somewhere where winter gets cold, icy, and bleak.

Fennel Threesome with Arugula and Parmesan

My next recipe hails from Classic Pasta at Home and is an arugula salad with fennel and Parmesan. I love arugula and Parmesan. I can’t place how I feel about fennel though. I don’t hate it, but I don’t really like it either. It reminds me of people in my life who have never done anything spiteful or mean towards me, but for whatever reason I feel like something is off anyway. It’s a bizarre area of ambiguity that I am not a fan of.

Fennel is similar in that regard. I mean it’s healthy, so I feel like I should like it. It has a slight licorice taste to it, which means it’s not too bitter or sweet. I’ve liked it on certain pizzas and pastas I’ve had in the past, but I think that’s because it was just kind of there. It wasn’t really asserting itself in any way.

In this salad, Mr. Fennel was asserting himself big time and I decided I didn’t like fennel any more. He was being a little pushy. I enjoyed the arugula and Parmesan though, despite the cookbook calling arugula nutty. I always considered arugula to be just a little eccentric.

Anyway, to make your pushy arugula and fennel salad you will need 1 fennel bulb, 1/2 pound of rocket arugula, 3 tablespoons of olive oil, 1 1/2 tablespoons of lemon juice, 1 minced shallot, salt, pepper, and 2 oz of Parmesan cheese.

The first step is to slice your fennel. To do so, remove the stems and stalks. You will only be utilizing the bulb. You’ll also want to rinse the fennel. It gets a little dirty. I’m guessing from pushing itself onto everyone like the floozy fennel it is. Once you’ve rid your fennel of disease, you will cut it in half and thinly slice crosswise. When this is done, place the fennel in a large salad bowl with the arugula.

While the fennel and arugula are getting to know each other, you can make the dressing. Whisk the olive oil, lemon juice, and shallot in a small bowl to do so. If desired, you can also add salt and pepper to this. Either way, you are going to add this whisk mixture to the dance party in your large salad bowl. Toss that salad, because floozy fennel likes it and add more lemon juice if you think it’s needed as well.

Once fennel seems satisfied you can bring yourself to the party, provided you bring some shaved Parmesan with you. Fennel won’t have it any other way and arugula is just doing it’s thing.

I was not a big fan of this salad. I think mostly because I wasn’t enjoying the fennel. I also think my shallot was too big. What an unfortunate, un-intended pun by the way. I suppose I should apologize more for the other puns though. I actually came up with them.

Moving on, the shallot was a little too strong in my dressing. I think I should have used only half of the shallot I had minced. It also gave me the worst breath. I chewed a piece of gum and had three or four listerine strips before it went away.  I would have brushed my teeth, but I was in a public place after eating this. Talk about unfortunate.

IMG_1240

A slightly bitter threesome