Got a Blender? Make this Cold Soup!

Chilled Beet, Fennel, Kefir SoupChilled Soup Bliss

Beet, Fennel, Kefir, Sour Cream
Horseradish, Lemon, Garlic, Dijon Mustard

You can chug this chilled soup from a tumbler and be in heaven, but ladle it into cold shallow bowls and garnish with some fantastic accompaniments, and it will be one of the most extraordinary hot weather soups you’ll serve this summer.

It is garnished with a dizzying array of chopped hard boiled egg, a kefir drizzle, radish, sliced pickles, lemon, chives, and fennel fronds.

The best part is the mind-blowing complex flavors with tangy notes from the kefir, earthiness from beets, hints of anise from fennel, a pungent kick from the Dijon mustard and a peppery kick from the horseradish.

The second best part is how easy it is to make. Combine the soup ingredients in a blender until smooth, chill until nice and cold – and there you have a perfect summer soup… simple and easy enough to enjoy for lunch today or with jazzy garnishes that make it elegant enough to serve at your next al fresco dinner party.

This recipe was inspired by the famous Eastern European Cold Beet Soup called Holodnik. I add fennel, Dijon mustard, garlic, and prepared horseradish to the traditional ingredients for a more spicy and complex flavor profile. Chopped bread & butter pickles replace the usual cucumber to add sweet and sour elements.

Chilled Beet, Fennel, Kefir Soup Recipe

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Smashed Cucumber Salad

Smashed Cucumber Salad

Smashed Cucumber Salad with Garlic Scented Lima Beans
Fennel, Feta, Mint, Oregano, Lemon Juice, Olive Oil

Cool-crisp Persian cucumbers and creamy-buttery lima beans make a delightful summer duo. Fennel adds a bright crunch with a sweet, nutty anise flavor.

The large limas by Lompoc Beans are sold at our local Torrance Farmers Market. They are also available online. Grown in Santa Barbara County, the beans cook up beautifully smooth and tender.

Soak 2 cups of beans in water for 4 1/2 hours then drain. Place beans in a pot and add fresh cold water to cover by 2 inches. Add 4 smashed garlic cloves. Bring to a boil then turn down to simmer, cook uncovered, for one hour. Stir occasionally and add more water if necessary. Cook al dente (soft but not mushy), taste a few beans for doneness. Drain. Set aside to serve at room temperature.

It’s a fun salad to compose. Put cucumber chunks in a roomy ziplock bag and smash with a mallet. Squeeze lemon juice and drizzle fruity olive oil into the bag. Add shaved fennel and toss the bag to coat the veggies with the dressing. Let marinate for 10 minutes.

Smashed Cucumber Salad Composition

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Fennel and Cabbage Slaw with Bacon, Egg, Peas

Fennel and Cabbage Slaw with Bacon, Egg, Peas

Warm Fennel, Cabbage, and Celery Slaw
with
Bacon Lardons, Poached Egg, Peas, and Scallions
Garlic Whole Grain Croutons

I just blinked an eye and my fennel bush grew four feet. And those umbels of petite yellow florets seemed to suddenly appear too. I didn’t want to harvest the bulbs – the plant is so pretty in the garden with its bright feathery leaves – but I did want to use those fronds and flowers in a dish. It turns out that my friends at Food Network are featuring all kinds of SLAW this week,  so I started with fennel and cabbage (from the farmers market) as a base and built this delightful salad from there.

Unlike most slaws, it is served slightly warm. And there are many flavors and textures in the dish that harmonize with each other. It is flexible too – going low-carb or gluten-free? Just leave out the croutons. Vegetarians can omit the bacon. Everyone can still be happy. Guaranteed.

Fennel Cabbage Slaw Recipe

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THIN IS IN: Fennel, Mushroom, Watercress, Parmesan, Walnut

Fennel, Mushroom, Watercress, Parmesan, Walnut, Olive Oil, Balsamic Syrup

Fennel, Mushroom, Watercress, Parmesan, Walnut
Fruity Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Balsamic Syrup

It’s almost summer and thin is in! Thin vegetables, that is. A mandoline slicer can help turn a fennel bulb and common white mushrooms into a graceful salad or side dish. Pretty paper-thin watercress leaves add a bold peppery flavor. Their deep green color contrasts the pale fennel, mushroom, and cheese. Walnuts bring nutty, earthy flavors and a crunchy texture. Dressed with fruity olive oil and balsamic syrup, the final dish has a synergistic elegance beyond its everyday components.

THIN IS IN SALAD/SIDE DISH RECIPE

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Griddled Chicken, Saffron Tangelo Syrup, Fennel Herb Salad

ottolenghi saffron chicken

Griddled Chicken Breast, Saffron Tangelo Wedges with Syrup
Fennel , Cilantro, Basil, Mint with Lime Vinaigrette

minneola tangelo image, tangelo recipe

Minneola Tangelo Branch of Citrus Salad Tree

Planted in 2008, my Citrus Salad Tree is now bursting with ripe fruits. This is a citrus tree that has 5 varieties of fruit grafted onto one trunk; Persian Lime, Valencia Orange, Honey Mandarin, Late Lane Navel Orange, and Minneola Tangelo. The juicy bell-shaped tangelo, also called a honeybell, has a very sweet flavor with a thin peel. The Minneola is a cross between a Duncan grapefruit and a Dancy tangerine, developed by the USDA in 1931.

I adapted this bright colorful chicken dish from Yotam Ottolenghi’s “saffron chicken & herb salad” featured in the cookbook, Jerusalem, to incorporate tangelos and limes from my tree. Ottolenghi blitzes his orange syrup into a paste, using a food processor. I thought the tangelo wedges added texture and color to the dish, so I left them intact. The sunny citrusy honey saffron flavors shine, either way…

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