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Chicken Fennel Soup

This is a simple slow cooking soup that only gets better with time and packs a punch of flavor.  I love to make this on cold rainy or snowy days where I get it going and let it slowly cook down for hours as I watch football or putz around the house.  Oh and if picky Shae loves this you know it is good, it is one of her all time favorites!

First off, what is fennel?  Fennel is a plant with a bulbous bottom with fine green frowns that look a lot like dill’s frowns but smaller.  It has a districted anis flavor when raw but that favor mellows when cooked.  It is used a lot in Mediterranean cooking and both the bulb and the frowns can be used.  You can use it both raw and cooked and can be used in countless way.  Its seeds are also used as a spice (northern European countries will use it in rye breads) and fennel is one of the main ingredients in absinth.   To learn more go here.

  • 3 boneless skinless chicken breasts (thighs work well to) cubed up
  • Glug or two of olive oil
  • 1 white or yellow onion diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic diced
  • 1 large or 2 small fennel bulbs and greens
  • 3 or more carrots cut into ¼” lengths
  • 3 or more celery sticks cut into ¼” lengths (if wide split down the middle)
  • 2 35 oz boxes of your favorite chicken stock (homemade if you have it works even better)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Several stalks of fresh thyme
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 or so Tbls. fresh Italian parsley finely chopped

I like to get my chopping done first, after chopping is done, add some olive oil into a Dutch oven or heavy stock pot that is on medium high heat and put in the cubed chicken and add a little salt and pepper.  Cook until not pink anymore then add onions, garlic and fennel and cook until onions start to turn translucent, about 5-8 minutes.  Then add carrots and celery and cook for 5-10 more minutes, this will help bring out their flavors a bit.  Stir often.  Add chicken stock, bay leaves, thyme, and other spices and bring to a boil for a few minutes.  Reduce heat, cover and cook for a few hours or until all the veggies are tender.  Before serving, remove thyme stalks and bay leaves and add fresh parsley, cook for a minute or two more, adjusting salt and pepper as desired.  Serve with nice crusty bread for dunking. 

This soup is even better the next day so make sure you have some leftovers!  

Cooks’ note:  Like most soups adding what you have on hand is perfectly ok, bulk it up with some beans, rice or barley, add potatoes, tomatoes or zucchini no problem.  Use left over thanksgiving turkey meat, or boasted chicken from the grocery store = yum!  Could even make it in the crock pot and have it ready right after work!

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