Fennel and Freekeh Soup with Frond Pesto

Fennel is a delightfully aromatic vegetable, which can bring so much life into a dish. Freekeh is a young green wheat grain that is high in both fibre and protein. Together they not only make a great alliteration, but a delicious duo for soup!

This recipe has two components: the soup itself, and a delightful pesto type garnish to utilise the fronds of the fennel. The aim of this recipe is to help you give you ideas of how to use the ingredients in your organic vegetable box each week.

If you have coeliac disease or are avoiding gluten, freekeh is to be avoided. You could substitute with a short grain brown rice.
This version is vegetarian, but can easily be made vegan with a simple substitution. You’ll find the notes for this modification under the pesto ingredients.

There are so many reasons why soup is so great. When you cook a big pot of it, you have a delicious home made lunch for the next day. Yum! Packing lunches in responsible reusable packaging is a great way of saving money and reducing waste from take out foods.
Forgotten about those veggies at the back of the fridge and now they are looking a bit sad? No one will know when it goes into a soup!!

Recipe for Fennel and Freekeh Soup with Frond Pesto

Fennel and freekeh soup ingredients

Soup

Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 40 minutes

Instruments
Chopping board
Kitchen knife
Soup pot
Wooden spoon
Medium size bowl
Strainer

Ingredients
3 tbsp olive oil
3 cloves garlic
1 onion
2 celery sticks
2 medium carrots
1 fennel bulb
1 cup of freekeh (approx 180g)
A few sprigs of fresh thyme
2 vegetable buillons (or if you’re organised and have made your own vegetable broth, even better)
10 cups of water
Salt and pepper, to taste

Method
1. Pre-cut all of the vegetables. Dice the onions, celery and carrots. Slice the fennel so it is in pieces that will fit onto a soup spoon.
2. Soak the freekeh in the medium size bowl. You will need to leave this for 10-15 minutes, then strain and rinse very well.
3. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in the pot, then add the onions and garlic. Cook these for 5 minutes on a medium heat until the onions start to become translucent.
4. Add the remaining vegetables, the thyme sprigs and further tablespoon of olive oil and give them a good stir and simmer in the pot for 2-3 minutes.
5. Add stock cubes and water and bring to the boil. Cook for 10 minutes.
6. Add drained freekeh to the pot and cook for a further 25 minutes, or until freekeh is tender.
7. Serve warm with a spoonful of fennel frond pesto.
8. Season with salt and pepper if required

fennel and freekeh soup

Pesto

Prep time: 5 mins
Cook time: 2 mins

Instruments:
Blender or Thermomix
Small kitchen knife
Small frying pan

Ingredients:
Fennel fronds from one bulb (approx 120g)
2 large garlic cloves
4-5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
20g parmesan *(substitute with nutritional yeast to make it vegan)
30g pepitas
30g pine nuts **(if you have nut allergies in the home, forego the nuts and just increase the pepita quantity)
1/4 tsp salt (can increase if required)

Fennel front pesto

Method:
1. Place the pepitas and pine nuts** into a frying pan and lightly toast on a medium heat until lightly browned. Ensure you move them around in the pan and watch them closely as they can burn easily.
Set aside to cool.
2. Remove the fronds from the stalks on the fennel top. Peel the skin off the garlic.
3. Place all the ingredients except for the olive oil into the blender and blend to a paste. While the blender is still running, gradually drizzle in your olive oil to desired consistency.
4. Serve in your soup, or save me as a delightful addition to sandwiches or cheese boards.

Fennel and freekeh soup

Bon appétit.

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