Caramelized Fennel and Kale Soup with Basil Oil

Soup Season has arrived!

You could call this a superfood soup. But I suspect many of you will run a mile at the mere mention, thinking that healthy can not possibly taste good.

Trust me, it can.

This is basically the 21st century reinvention of a simple peasant soup. It’s soothing and light in equal measure. It’s also brimming with antioxidants and vitamins and minerals and all sorts of nutritional goodness that “the interweb” can much better inform you about than I ever could.

Suffice to say, this wholesome meal-in-a-bowl is a much needed antidote for the naughty baked stuffed Camembert I made yesterday.


You can vary the vegetables with whatever you have to hand, substituting chard or spinach for the kale, lime for lemon, chickpeas for beans, parsnip or potato for carrot, parsley or coriander for basil.

Non-vegetarians may like to swap the vegetable stock for chicken stock.

What is essential though, is the onion and fennel.  I’m not usually a big fan of fennel, but the caramelization seems to balance out that otherwise potentially overpowering hit of aniseed.


Caramelized Fennel and Kale Soup with Basil Oil (serves 4-6 GF DF LC V Vg RSF)

Kale and fennel soup

Like most soups and stews, this looks best on day 1, but tastes better on day 2.


1 tbsp coconut oil

2 onions, sliced

2 fennel bulbs, fronts removed, thinly sliced

1 tbsp coconut palm sugar (or maple or agave syrup – the real stuff)

200 gr kale, torn into bite size pieces, tough stems removed

1 small courgette, finely chopped

1-2 carrots, finely chopped

2 bay leaves

1 400 gr tin of black-eyed beans, drained and rinsed

1-2 cloves of garlic, crushed or finely chopped

1 good thumb of ginger, finely chopped

1 red chili, (deseeded if you must), finely chopped

2 tsp turmeric or garam masala

A good squeeze  of lemon juice

Approx. 1½ l hot vegetable stock (I like Marigold vegan reduced salt bouillon powder when I don’t have fresh)


Toasted mixed seeds (pumpkin, sunflower, sesame, linseed etc) or pine nuts

A handful of basil

Approx. 100ml rapeseed oil

Some crusty (GF) bread to serve


Heat the oven to 185C

Heat ½ tbsp coconut oil in a wide stove-to-oven dish that can hold the onions and fennel in a thin layer. Add the onions and fry a few minutes on medium heat to soften.

Add the garlic, ginger and chili and fry for another minute or so. Add the fennel and season generously. Toss to combine and fry a bit longer.

Sprinkle over the coconut sugar (or maple/agave syrup). Toss and transfer to the oven for 15-20 mins or until caramelized at the edges.

Meanwhile, heat ½ tbsp  coconut oil in a large soup pan. Fry the carrot and courgette for a few minutes over medium heat before adding the kale. Fry for 3-5 mins, or until the kale starts to wilt and turns a bright glossy green.

Add the onions and fennel, stock, bay leaves, beans and turmeric or garam masala. Cook uncovered on medium low for 20-30 minutes (covering would kill the vibrant colours).

Whiz up the basil with the oil in a blender .

Check the soup for seasoning and add lemon juice to taste.

Divide over soup bowls and top with toasted seeds and a drizzle of the basil oil.

Serve with crusty bread for mopping.

Fennel kale and bean soup


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