My mum/Bibi’s grandma, Shirley, is far too busy having fun to spend all her time in the kitchen. She’s a world famous blogger for a start* and she has her writing group, reading club, gym sessions, charity shop work, coffee with her mates, hair do once a week without fail etc etc to keep up. No time for faffing over a hot stove in Shirley world.
She does have one fantastic recipe though and I try to get her to make this every time I go over. This is a variation on it. It’s a soup that uses fennel to provide the core flavour, which is marvellous because it’s tasty, light and refreshing. It’s also very, very good for you. Fennel has strong anti-oxidant properties, helps reduce inflammation and contains lots of Vitamin C. It’s also a good source of potassium (good for your heart) and fibre (good for other bits of you that shall remain unnamed when you’re thinking about eating).
There are plenty of root vegetables in this soup, which makes it a great carb-loading dish, but the fennel keeps the flavour fresh so it’s not too heavy. For the veg, I used what they had at my local market but you could use turnips, sweet potatoes or whatever other root veg you can find. There’s also protein from your beans, of course, so this soup is a good all rounder for lunch or dinner too. I ate mine with the chunky vegetables in the broth on the first day and then buzzed it to look more soup-ish for lunch the next day. Both tasted blimmin’ marvellous so just go for whatever consistency takes your fancy.
Fennel and Black Eyed Bean Soup
1 bulb fennel
2 cloves garlic
1 small swede, diced
2 carrots, diced
1 parsnip, diced
400g tin black eyed beans
800ml vegetable stock
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1 tablespoon olive oil for frying
Salt and black pepper to taste
1. Peel off the outer layer of fennel and discard. Slice the rest roughly and add to a large pan with the garlic and olive oil. Saute over a low heat for 1o minutes.
2. Add the diced root vegetables, stirring well to coat them in oil. Place a lid on the pan and saute for another 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
3. Add the vegetable stock, black eyed beans and dried herbs. If you’d like a cross between broth and thick soup, break some of the beans at this stage to thicken the liquid slightly.
4 Stir well again, bring to the boil then reduce the heat and simmer until the root vegetables are done (10-15 minutes).
5. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Serve with crusty bread or toasted paprika pittas (the method for making them is here with our Roasted Aubergine and Red Onion Dip recipe).
*World famous might be a slight exaggeration but Shirley did write this amazing post for the Culture Vulture blog on why she speaks to ten people a day. Check it out. It’s a lovely read – it’s even been quoted in a parliamentary select committee on social care! That’s how cool she is…