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Fennel is one of those vegetables I always instinctively pick up and sniff while shopping. There aren’t too many veggies I do this with, unless you count herbs, like cilantro and mint. Although smell is such an essential component of all our eating, certain foods bring fragrance even more front and center. Think pesto. Or a fresh mango salsa. These foods are like seduction for our senses. This Chicken Fennel Soup with Lemon and Creme Fraiche is similar. Borrowing a phrase from Kenneth T Farrell’s Spices, Condiments and Seasonings, the pleasantly fresh, aromatic scent of fennel creates a soup that’s as delicious as it is intoxicating.
Corrina ate a bowl of this and gave it a hearty thumbs up. Amazing, to me. Her enthusiasm inspired me to make it again, a few weeks later. And again, she gave it an enthusiastic thumbs up. That’s a win in my book, folks.
The name, or, more accurately, the “Creme Fraiche” piece implies a certain gourmet quality; nothing could be further from the truth. Creme Fraiche is simply a quick-made buttermilk mixed with coconut cream. It simply adds a cold, refreshing element to counterbalance the warmth of the soup. Don’t let it deter you – it is delicious, but also entirely optional.
One important note about the Creme Fraiche: it is very easy to prepare but needs to be started either the day or night before you plan on making the soup.
Please note that I use anise seeds – if you are following the strict portion of AIP, you have a few options. You can simply omit them. If you find you tolerate fruit-based spices, you can swap them for the same amount of ground star anise (a fruit spice, allowed, with caution, on strict AIP) . Alternately, you can use whole star anise. I have noted these options in the recipe box, below.
As a side note, a quick tutorial on the difference between fennel, anise, and star anise. Fennel is a bulbous plant, and as such, completely AIP-compliant. Anise, on the other hand, is the SEED from an herb found in the parsley family. Since all seeds (from those used as spices to pumpkin or sesame) are omitted during the strict AIP phase, anise would be left out. Star anise, which is the FRUIT of a tree native to parts of China and Indonesia, can be used with caution. Vanilla and allspice also fall into the “cautious” category.
Thankfully, I’ve found I am able to tolerate seeds in a semi-regular fashion, which is why I feature them here.
This soup is a perfect transitional soup, moving us from spring into summer (and beyond). The shredded chicken (which I love to make in my Instant Pot ) is also optional! If you are looking for a lighter, vegetable-only meal, then by all means omit!
What You Need to Make this Recipe:
- solid cooking fat (I’ve been enjoying this duck fat recently)
- anise seed, or star anise, whole or ground, if tolerated
- gelatin (I love that it thickens and adds gut-healing amino acids to the meal)
- immersion blender (you can also use a blender but I greatly appreciate not needing to a, use an additional kitchen tool; b, having to move soup from one place to another; and c, worry about splatting hot soup everywhere, as I have in the past when blending!)
Enjoy this Chicken Fennel Soup with Lemon and Creme Fraiche!! Don’t forget to #letscreatethesweetlife if you make this – we love love seeing your creations, and how you’re enjoying our recipes.
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This recipe is part of Phoenix Helix’ Recipe Roundtable #219!!
Chicken Fennel Soup with Lemon and Creme Fraiche
A soup that's light enough for spring or summer, yet made hearty thanks to shredded chicken. Infused with lemon and brightened by anise and fennel, this sweet, slightly spiced soup is the perfect spring + summer meal!
- 1 large sweet onion
- 2 fennel bulbs
- 2 inch knob of ginger
- 2 teaspoon anise seeds** (NOTE: OMIT for strict AIP)
- 2 Tablespoon solid cooking fat
- 3 cups bone broth
- 1/8 cup gelatin
- zest and juice of one lemon
- 2 cups shredded chicken
- 1 cup Creme Fraiche (optional, recipe below)
Heat large pot over medium heat on stove. Chop onion. Slice fennel bulbs thin. Chop ginger.
Add 2 Tablespoons fat to pot. Once melted and hot, add onion. Cook for several minutes until fragrant and softened. Add fennel, ginger and anise or star anise, if using. Continue to cook, covered, for about 5 minutes, until fragrant and softened.
Add broth and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for about 10 more minutes, until fennel is very soft. If using whole star anise, remove now.
Puree, using an immersion blender. Add gelatin and puree again. Add shredded chicken and cook 5 minutes more to re-heat.
Remove from heat and add lemon juice and zest. Ladle into bowl and top with creme fraiche and fresh fennel fronds, if desired. Enjoy!!
**OMIT for strict AIP. If not strict AIP, and if fruit-based spices are tolerated but seeds are not, substitute EITHER the same amount of ground star anise OR 3 whole star anise)
Creme Fraiche (AIP + Paleo)
This takes some prep ahead of time to have ready when you make your soup. Although optional, I do highly recommend it, as it lends a creamy, slightly tart flavor that offsets the soup's natural sweetness. Plus it's delicious on fresh berries or other veggie dishes!
- 1/4 teaspoon lemon juice or apple cider vinegar
- 1/4 cup full fat coconut milk
- 1 cup coconut cream
Add lemon juice or acv to coconut milk. Let sit for ~10 minutes, creating a dairy-free buttermilk.
Take 2 Tablespoons of the buttermilk and add to 1 cup coconut cream. Allow to sit, covered, anywhere from overnight up to 24 hours (but no longer!). Mixture will thicken and become tangy. Stir and refrigerate (keeps up to 1 week).
Time: 5 minutes prep, plus ~8 hours up to 24 hours inactive, wait time.