It really is slow food when you try to harvest it yourself.
One of us believed the fennel growing wild in a certain vacant lot is the kind that you could dig up for its crisp, licorice-flavored tubers.
Marja, the chef, raised a skeptical eyebrow but came along.
Clank. (My shovel hits rock at 10 a.m.).
Thud. (My shovel falls to the ground at 1 p.m.).
I admitted defeat and headed to a bookstore. Marja, the traitor, had already gone to the farmer's market for her fennel. A gardening book revealed wild fennel to be lacking, in the tuber department. Like: no edible bulbs.
You can however, use its feathery fronds for garnish. Or add them to a wild greens salad for a hint of anise.
Back at the tuttifoodie test kitchen (a.k.a., my apartment), Marja's chilled fennel potato soup waited. It's simple, clean and buttery somehow, with a tasty hint of licorice. And, with only a few ingredients, it's so easy to make. That is, if you buy your fennel—Florence fennel—at the market.
Chilled Fennel Potato Soup
6c Vegetable stock
2 Bulbs fennel, stalks removed and sliced
3 Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and sliced
3 Stalks celery, chopped
Fresh peas (blanched) or fennel ferns for garnish
Salt and pepper to taste
the fennel, potatoes and celery in stock until tender.
in food processor until smooth.
with salt and pepper to taste.
for one hour.
with fresh peas, fennel ferns or a dollop of water buffalo yogurt.