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Fennel soup is a soup prepared with the bulbous portion of the fennel plant. There are various recipes for fennel soup, ranging from a simple soup of fennel, butter and chicken broth to a more complicated, creamy soup with other vegetables added. Fennel soup is often used as a starter soup prior to a main course or to accompany a sandwich, and it can be served hot or cold, depending on the method of preparation.
A delicious soup can be made by combining fennel with a myriad of other vegetables, such as leeks, tomatoes, potatoes and celery. The use of a chicken broth base, meat, poultry or seafood makes a thin fennel soup more hearty. Chilled fennel soup paired with beets can be served with a garnishment of pistachios for an interesting flavor combination. Herb soups combined with fennel can provide a refreshing alternative to traditional heavy soups.
Composed of a light-green bulb and several green stalks that have thin, fluffy leaves, fennel resembles a larger version of a celery plant. Yellow flowers form amid the fine leaves found at the tip of the stalks. The flowers produce fennel seeds, which are also edible and used as a garnish or herb. Fennel has a unique flavor that is similar to a mixture of anise and licorice. The fennel plant is actually a perennial herb, but the bulb is used as a vegetable, the seeds are used as a spice, and the leaves are used as an herb, making fennel a truly versatile plant.
The bulb of the fennel plant is a good source of vitamin C, which supports the immune system and provides protection against free radicals. The plant also provides a decent dose of fiber, potassium, manganese and folate. These minerals play an important part in colon health and reduce the risks associated with stroke or heart attacks.
When purchasing fennel, one should look for a firm bulb with straight stalks. Fennel that has flowers at the tips of the stalks should be avoided, because this indicates that the plant was harvested after it reached its prime. The fresh herb should have a distinctive licorice smell. Fennel should be stored in the vegetable drawer of a refrigerator, and it should last about four days. Fennel soup should be prepared within a few days after the fennel is purchased to ensure that it offers the best possible health benefits.
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