Six O’Clock Solution: Fennel kohlrabi soup is a family-farm recipe

The tale of this family farm in Portugal Cove-St. Philip’s, N.L., dates back to pioneer times.

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Browse the pages of The Grounds Café: Seasonal Dishes from Murray’s Century Farm (Boulder Books/Firefly Books, $34.95) and you will wish there were more such enterprises across Canada.

The tale of this family farm in Portugal Cove-St. Philip’s, N.L., dates back to pioneer times. The recipes at the farm-to-table restaurant show how P.E.I.’s “old stalwarts” (potatoes, turnips, cabbage and carrots) have been enhanced by such flavourful newcomers as arugula, white spring turnips, nettle tops and some foraged foods.

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This soup is one of almost 50 recipes provided by former Ontarian chef Nick van Mele. The year-round story of how this energetic family runs their farm, garden centre, landscaping business and even an art gallery makes an informative read. The book is copiously illustrated by a batch of photographers.

Fennel kohlrabi soup

Serves 6

Gremolata (see recipe)

3 fennel bulbs, halved

Olive oil


Freshly ground pepper

1 large kohlrabi, peeled, chopped*

1 medium onion, sliced

3 garlic cloves, sliced

2 tablespoons (30 mL) chopped, preserved lemon, or fresh lemon juice and grated peel (zest)

Pinch chili flakes

4 cups (1 L) vegetable or chicken broth

4 tablespoons (60 mL) plus 2 teaspoons (10 mL) canola oil

*Substitute broccoli stems, turnips, radishes or celeriac

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 C). Cut a square of aluminum foil. Place fennel in centre of foil, drizzle with a little olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Loosely wrap in the foil and place in a roasting pan.

Roast in preheated oven for 30 to 40 minutes or until fennel is completely soft and beginning to caramelize.

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Cut out the pith of the preserved lemon and slice peel into small strips. If using fresh lemon, squeeze out juice and grate peel (zest).

In a large soup pot over medium heat, heat the canola oil and sauté onion and garlic until translucent. Add kohlrabi and fennel, season with salt and pepper, and continue to sauté for 5 to 8 minutes, until the kohlrabi begins to soften.

Add broth and bring mixture to a simmer. Continue to simmer for 20 minutes or until the kohlrabi is fork-tender.

Using a food processor or blender, purée the soup in batches with the lemon and chili flakes. Keep warm in a pot until ready to serve.

Serve with Gremolata.

Gremolata: Finely chop and combine in an airtight continer 1 cup (250 mL) flat-leaf parsley, 2 garlic cloves, 1 lemon (juice and grated peel (zest), ½ cup (125 mL) olive oil, pinch chili flakes, and salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Cover and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.

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