Fennel braised in vegetable broth

October 3, 2012 at 10:10 pm (B plus (3.5 stars, like a lot), Derek's faves, French, Italian, Vegetable dishes)

I was planning on making white bean, fennel, and rosemary soup this weekend, but I overcooked my white beans and so I ended up making a white bean and rosemary puree with the beans.  But what to do with the fennel?  I remember making (and loving) a braised fennel recipe from Jack Bishop’s Italian Vegetarian cookbook many years ago, but for some reason I never made it again.  I considered making the same recipe tonight, but I didn’t have any white wine open.  Instead, I roughly followed this epicurious recipe, except rather than braising my fennel in chicken broth I used vegetable broth.


  • 2 medium fennel bulbs, about 8-10 oz each
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 cup reduced-sodium broth + 1/4 cup water


  1. Cut off and discard stalks from fennel bulbs, reserving fronds. Chop 1 tablespoon fronds and discard remainder. Cut bulbs lengthwise into 1/2-inch-thick slices, leaving core intact. (In other words, don’t remove the core.)
  2. Heat oil or butter in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderately high heat until very hot, then brown fennel slices well, turning over once, 3 to 4 minutes total.
  3. Reduce heat to low. Sprinkle fennel with salt and pepper, then add broth and water. Cook, covered, until fennel is tender, 10 to 12 minutes. Sprinkle with reserved fennel fronds.
  4. Makes four vegetable side servings.

My notes:

My fennel bulbs were about 8-9 ounces each, but I couldn’t fit the last few slices in the pan in a single layer.  I ended up cooking just 400g of fennel (about 14 oz).  Next time I’d cut the fennel just a bit thicker so that I could fit all of the fennel in the pan.

Instead of the olive oil I used just over 1.5 Tbs. butter (25g) and then at the end I uncovered the skillet and boiled the liquid to try to reduce it a bit, then added 1 Tbs. light whipping cream to thicken it up.

Instead of the chicken broth plus water I used 3/4 cup homemade no-salt vegetable broth + 1 Rapunzel low-sodium bouillon cube.

The fennel came out really delicious.  Great texture.  Great taste.  Salty and rich, but not overwhelmingly so.  Derek said it tasted like an excellent dish in a French restaurant.

The only thing I would change next time is trying to cut the fennel a bit thicker (3/4 inches?) to get a full 20 ounces of fennel in the pan, and using exactly 1.5 Tbs. of butter.  I might also try cutting the salt just a tad.   But perhaps the extra six ounces of fennel would make reducing the salt unnecessary.

Rating: B+
Derek: A


  1. What to do with fennel? « The captious vegetarian said,

    […] in vegetable broth or in white […]

  2. Alex said,

    we made this tonight. very nice. we used butter as you suggested. made it taste decadent. you mentioned cutting thicker pieces in order to all fit in the pan – i wasn’t very consistent with my cut width (1/4 inch – 1/2 inch) and found i enjoyed the thinner slices much better. this did lead to the problem that the fennel overlapped in the pan, but i just threw it all in mixed until all was mostly brown. also, skipped the salt and instead used 3/4 c. broth from a boullon cube (instead of 1/2 c. low sodium broth + 1/4 c. water). my taste, salt was perfect, though i know you are more sensitive to salt.

    • captious said,

      Cool. Thanks for the report, and I’m glad it turned out well!

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