Beautiful and ancient, fennel has a subtle sweet licorice flavor and crunchy texture that has been all the rage since ancient Greece. Today, research is showing that a substance found in fennel, anethole, blocks tumor necrosis factor (TNF). What does that mean for us exactly? Quite a lot actually. Tumor necrosis factor is linked with many immune disorders such as :
- rheumatoid arthritis
- inflammatory bowel disease
The pharmaceutical industry has been extremely invested in developing TNF inhibitors. So much, in fact, that the global market for these inhibitors grew from 13.5 billion to 22 billion from 2008 to 2009. The great news is that we can skip the bill and scary side effects of these synthesized drugs by incorporating more foods that naturally have TNF inhibiting properties. Cumin, tumeric, green tea, and echinacea all seem to behave similarly by inhibiting TNF.
Fennel’s TNF inhibiting awesomeness is just the cherry on top in addition to its anti-inflammatory, anti-carcinogen, antimicrobial qualities. Now that you’ve developed a new found respect for that unsuspecting, but gorgeous, bulb, here’s my Iraqi mother-in-law’s recipe that’ll make you wish you had made more.
Luna’s Mediterranean Fennel Soup ingredients:
2 small purple (or white) onions
a few small fennel bulbs (or 1 to 2 large ones)
dash of salt and pepper
water (sorry, the cook laughed when I asked her for measurements! – they run an old-school style kitchen here)
1 tbs. of extra virgin olive oil (optional)
Cut vegetables into large chunks
Add all ingredients to boiling water
Cover and cook until tender (about 20 to 35 minutes)
Top with Golden Garlic Crispy Bits: In a small pot, heat 1 to 2 tbs. of vegetable oil that’s suitable for high heat. Add thinly sliced garlic slivers (4 to 6 cloves) making sure you “deep fry” the garlic by tilting the pot so that the garlic is immersed in the oil. Remove garlic when it starts turning a golden brown. Sprinkle over your newfound winter soup and enjoy!