Fennel Spinach Soup

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Fennel Spinach Soup

While I am very aware that the holidays, for most of us, usually means a bit more sweets than usual, maybe a tad more alcohol and probably a few other less-than-healthy choices, I also kinda resent the idea that we should all relegate ourselves to spending the entire month of January detoxing, cleansing or Whole-whatevering.

Fennel Spinach Soup

Obviously you guys know me and my mission well enough to know that people making healthier choices and mindful lifestyle changes is always something I can get behind no matter the circumstances and in fact, I constantly encourage this. But, I don’t love this idea of post-holiday shame or guilt, that many feel we should suffer, especially after one of the best and most special times of the year. It just isn’t healthy. I also don’t love the idea often promoted every January, that 30 days of “cleansing” is going to change our lives or fix our wrongdoings and come February we can just jump back into the “old ways of eating”. Done and done.

Fennel Spinach Soup

Once again, it’s that balance I so often talk about. It’s the sustainable lifestyle choices and habit-forming, everyday changes that will endure long term and elicit real shifts in our health and overall well-being and vitality, for the long haul. Sure, more veggies and less junk is what we are all doing right now and I am certainly not condemning that, but I will feel no regret for my holiday choices. I make no apologies for the amazing, “nutritionally imperfect” homemade food I enjoyed with my family or those extra few pieces of the dark chocolate candy that my father and I made together (using my great-grandmother’s recipe) – which may have snuck into my suitcase. So what, I had a few cocktails? I also don’t feel even the slightest bit bad about the extra (of course, gluten-free) refined-carbs that seemed to follow me everywhere these past two weeks. None of these choices were really all that bad. I know, simply put, that it cannot and will not undo all the hard work I have done the rest of the year and consuming those things (or more) under the premise that I will “undo” it in the New Year, feels just plain silly to me.

Fennel Spinach Soup

I also truly believe that eating without guilt, in the first place, can change how our bodies receive the food we consume. On a very energetic level the mindset we take on while we eat is transferred to our food and how our body handles it. I have been witness to and felt this very phenomenon within myself. Now, I ask you to stop for a second and please don’t get it twisted, I am not saying to run out and eat McDonald’s or engorge yourself in a bag of potato chips or cookies, to do so with love and acceptance in your heart and the junk won’t affect you. Rather, I encourage you to drop the guilt and lose the shame where it’s appropriate. Sharing beautiful food made in love (that may be less than ideal, health-wise), with people whom you love, at a special occasion – there is nothing to cleanse of and no reason to detox. I think that there are probably appropriate times and places for cleansing, but I fear this new culture of January holiday-shaming is breeding unhealthy habits surrounding food.

Fennel Spinach Soup

Now that I have that off my chest and I have stepped down off my soapbox, you can be certain you won’t find me munching on cookies (or probably much if any sugar, at all) and you likely won’t see me sipping on cocktails this month. I can also tell you that currently ALL that I want is soup and green things. My body is crying out for it and as with every other time of the year, I listen to my body and I honor my cravings. Without rules, without labels. We are all born with this innate connection to our body and it’s needs, a primal knowing of sorts, of what we our bodies are deficient in. Sadly however, many of us have lost the ability to tap in, to listen and intuitively follow that inner voice.

Fennel Spinach Soup

This Fennel Spinach Soup is a direct result of my own inner voice and it’s craving for warming, comfort food and lots of greens! It’s creamy and rich without being heavy. The fresh spinach provides a vibrant hue, among countless nutritional benefits and the fennel brings a subtle undertone of unique flavor. I prefer this soup made with homemade chicken stock, but it would also be delicious with vegetable broth. The creaminess comes from 1 single white sweet potato (a regular white potato would also work). If you aren’t cleansing, detoxing or avoiding dairy for any reason, might I suggest just a few small shavings of a beautiful, raw milk parmesan – it’s the perfect compliment.

Fennel Spinach Soup

Finally, rather than listening to the chatter of the internet and the collective whole of the world this month, I encourage, challenge even, you to listen to your body and honor your unique individuality and needs. What are you craving right now? What does your body want after the busy holidays? Listen carefully and the answers are there waiting for you.

Fennel Spinach Soup

[print_this]Fennel Spinach Soup {gluten-free and paleo with vegan options}
serves 4-6

  • 2 tablespoons grass-fed butter or olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 medium fennel bulb, trimmed and thinly sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 white sweet potato (or regular potato), peeled and cubed
  • 4 cups chicken broth (vegetable broth to make vegetarian)
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 lb fresh spinach, (about 10 – 12 cups), rinsed and trimmed
  • micro greens for serving, or additional fresh spinach leaves
  • raw milk, aged parmesan cheese, shaved, for serving, optional

In a large Dutch oven or heavy bottomed pot, heat over a medium heat and add the butter (or olive oil). Add the onion, fennel and garlic and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes or until onion and fennel is tender, stirring occasionally.

Add the broth and potato. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 10 minutes or until potato is tender. Turn the heat to low and add the spinach. Stir until the spinach, just until the spinach is wilted.

Purée with an immersion blender or in batches using a regular blender or food processor*, until smooth. Return the puree to pot over a low heat, season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Ladle soup into bowls, serve topped with micro greens or additional fresh spinach, a drizzle of olive oil and parmesan cheese shavings, if you’d like. Enjoy.

NOTE: When puréeing hot soup in a blender or food processor, do so in small batches, filling the blender pitcher only about halfway. Put the lid on, but remove that small cap in the lid (if you have it) and hold the lid down tight with a towel, otherwise the steam will cause the lid to explode off, spewing hot liquid everywhere. This has never happened to me, but it can, so be careful. [/print_this]

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2 Responses

  1. Kalinda says:

    A girl after my own heart!

  2. Cathi says:

    I made this tonight with a 5iz box of spinach and leftover chard. Cooked it in Instant Pot for 4 minutes- it was so good!

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