Monday, September 14, 2015

Chicken, Black Bean, and Fennel Soup

I invented a soup!

Hubby's parents bought into their community garden this summer, so we've been reaping the benefits of their growth (which is great since I've been neglecting my garden and it's been responding in kind.)

Funnily, they planted all sorts of vegetables that they'd never eaten before, and they've been sharing these new culinary sensations with us too. The first was arugula--we've had arugula in nearly every salad we've eaten this summer, they planted that much of it. The second was fennel.

We've sprinkled the fennel fronds (I've learned that's what the green fuzzy part is called) on salads and other foods, but what to do with the rest of it? I found a few fennel soup recipes online and decided to combine them with a homemade stock of my own.

The result was good! I think in order to be more fragrant, I'd use more than one fennel bulb if I had them, but otherwise it was a tasty soup that filled us up!

Chicken, Black Bean, and Fennel Soup
Top 8 free!


  • 5-6 cups chicken stock (I made my own with a chicken carcass, an onion, a few garlic cloves, salt, and peppercorns)
  • 1-2 cups diced or shredded chicken (I just picked the bones clean after making the stock, cook some up or open a can if you aren't using fresh stock)
  • 2 lbs black beans
  • Olive oil
  • 1/2 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 fennel bulb, diced (could do 2 or 3 to increase the fennel flavor)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • black pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 tsp rosemary
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1/4 tsp ground coriander
If necessary, make your stock. I put all my stock ingredients in the crockpot and let them simmer overnight. Boy, did the house smell good in the morning!

Soak your beans overnight too!

Rinse the beans and add them back to the pot with fresh water. Simmer for 2 hours or until beans are tender. Then rinse them yet again.

When your beans are nearly done, add your chicken stock to a large soup pot along with the chicken and bring to a boil. Add the cooked beans. Reduce heat and simmer.

Place a drizzle of olive oil in a medium saucepan and saute the onions for 3-5 minutes. Add the fennel and garlic, and cook for another 10 minutes, stirring frequently, until cooked down. Then add them all to the soup pot.

Add the salt, pepper, and spices, and then let it all simmer together to marry the flavors for about 15 minutes (you can substitute 1 tsp of tarragon for the rosemary and oregano if you would like to further enhance the flavor.)

Serve garnished with chopped fennel fronds and enjoy! We sure did!

Linking up at Allergy Free Wednesdays and Gluten Free Fridays

What are you doing for dinner this week?

Thursday, September 3, 2015

A Food Allergy Lesson from a Headache

We believe that Zax gets migraines.

They haven't been officially diagnosed, but we've got the family history and they certainly fit the pattern. A few years ago, we learned to medicate him at the first complaint of a headache, because if we don't, we'll regret it when the screaming and vomiting set in.

We've also wondered if these migraines are tied to altitude and/or dehydration, because just about every time we take a trip to the mountains, he complains of a headache--and several vacations have been less fun because that's how they began.  I bring this up because Zax had a migraine yesterday when I picked him up from school.

The moment I saw him, I could tell that something wasn't right. He told me his head hurt, and as I dug through my bag for his ibuprofen, I asked whether he had told his teacher. We keep ibuprofen in the nurse's office for this very reason. He said he had told her, but she'd just encouraged him to drink more water. So of course I chatted with his teacher before we left, to make sure she understood that his headaches need to be treated right away.

When I asked if Zax had reported his headache, she said "No." All he'd said was that he was thirsty, so she'd told him to drink water. I explained about his migraines, and that I'll tell him to communicate better, but that he needs to get ibuprofen at the first sign of any headache. She seemed to understand migraines, and so I took my miserable child home.

Yesterday's headache was a doozy, and Zax threw up in the car before curling up on the couch at home for a few hours. He definitely needed earlier meds.

Looking at both sides of the story, I think that what probably happened was that he'd said "My head hurts but maybe I'm just thirsty and need to drink more water," ...or something to that effect. Out of context, his teacher probably didn't hear the first few words, and once she understood what he was saying, she just heard him report thirst. When I discussed it with Zax before bed, when his headache had, thankfully, resolved, he agreed that he'd probably said something like that. I told him that his teacher knows that he needs headache medicine now, so if he reports a headache and she doesn't respond the right way, then she probably didn't understand him. In that case, he should say it again, more clearly.

And then, of course, we started talking about his allergies in the same context. It occurred to me that the way he reports an allergic reaction may not always be clear to the teachers. Together, we discussed that if he reports a reaction and doesn't get the right response (meaning anything other than sending him with a buddy to the nurse's office) then he should say it again but make sure he says he's having an allergic reaction.

Kids don't always realize that they aren't clear to adults, and we parents don't always realize that our children's speech patterns don't necessarily make sense to people who don't know our kids as well. Just one more reason to make sure our kids speak up until they're heard if they ever have an allergic reaction!