Let’s cook some soup today. Fennel one. With some Indian spices to make it look Ayurvedic.
What is fennel anyway?
Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) is a flowering plant species in the carrot family. It is a hardy, perennial herb with yellow flowers and feathery leaves. It is indigenous to the shores of the Mediterranean but has become widely naturalized in many parts of the world, especially on dry soils near the sea-coast and on riverbanks.
It is a highly flavorful herb used in cooking and, along with the similar-tasting anise, is one of the primary ingredients of absinthe. Florence fennel or finocchio (UK: /fɪˈnɒkioʊ/, US: /-ˈnoʊk-/, Italian: [fiˈnɔkkjo]) is a selection with a swollen, bulb-like stem base that is used as a vegetable.
Many cultures in India, Afghanistan, Iran, and the Middle East use fennel fruits in cooking. In Iraq, fennel seeds are used as an ingredient in nigella-flavored breads. It is one of the most important spices in Kashmiri cuisine and Gujarati cooking. In Indian cuisine, whole fennel seeds and fennel powder are used as a spice in various sweet and savory dishes. It is an essential ingredient of the Assamese/Bengali/Oriya spice mixture panch phoron and in Chinese five-spice powders. In many parts of India, roasted fennel fruits are consumed as mukhwas, an after-meal digestive and breath freshener (saunf), or candied as comfit. Fennel seeds are also often used as an ingredient in paan, a breath freshener most popularly consumed in India.
The Greek name for fennel is marathon (μάραθον) or marathos (μάραθος), and the place of the famous battle of Marathon literally means a plain with fennel. The word is first attested in Mycenaean Linear B form as ma-ra-tu-wo. In Hesiod’s Theogony, Prometheus steals the ember of fire from the gods in a hollow fennel stalk.
As Old English finule, fennel is one of the nine plants invoked in the pagan Anglo-Saxon Nine Herbs Charm, recorded in the 10th century.
Fennel was already known to ancient Egyptian, Greek and Roman healers. In the form of a cultivated plant, fennel was spread across Europe by the Romans, and the original homeland of fennel is the southern parts of Europe and southwest Asia. Legend has it that in their historic Battle of Marathon, the Greeks and Persians fought in a field where fennel grew in the middle. According to Greek mythology, fennel was said to be a very popular plant of the ancient Greek god of wine and good drink, Dionysus. The Greek gods are said to have imparted their knowledge to humans through a hollow fennel stem.
Fennel came into Old English from Old French fenoil which in turn came from Latin faeniculum, a diminutive of faenum, meaning “hay”.
And now for the soup.
We need fennel tuber, potato, onion, garlic. Spices: fennel seed, cumin seed, cinnamon, black pepper, bay leaf, pinch of nutmeg, salt. A little more garam masala if you have it. For lovers of hot dishes, you can also add a pinch of chili.
Cut the fennel and potatoes into small pieces. Chop the onion. Fry all this for 5 minutes in butter or ghee. Then add enough boiling water to cover all the ingredients. Then we add the spices, which I wrap in a canvas bag so that I can take them out at the end. Process all ingredients with a hand mixer. Let the soup stand for another 5 minutes so that the ingredients combine and the fennel soup is ready.
When serving, add a spoonful of heavy cream and a few green fennel tops for decoration.
And that’s it, very simple.
And last but not least, let your imagination run free.