October 25, 2011

Potato, Leek and Fennel Soup

I have a hard time dressing properly for this weather. The days of shorts and t-shirts are long gone. But it's not yet time for my warm and cozy sweaters and cords either. Somehow I never seem to have the right clothes for these days that are nippy but not cold, temperate but not warm.

But where my closet fails me, my cupboard never does. This time of year I love to eat soups. No longer the light, chilled soups of summer. But not yet the creamy chowders or rich stews of winter. No, right now I want something warm and comforting, but not too heavy.

The most basic of soups that I love in the early fall is this potato, leek and fennel soup. For this dish, you simply sauté then boil the ingredients together with some broth and then puree. The pureed potatoes give this soup its hearty consistency, without making it too heavy or filling. There isn't a drop of cream or dairy in this soup, but it still feels luxurious.

This is really more of a template than a recipe. If you want more depth, roast the potatoes and fennel first, tossed in a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper. If you have leftover roasted potatoes, use them instead. Roasted butternut squash sitting in Tupperware? Steamed cauliflower? Sautéed zucchini? Any of those, or pretty much any other vegetable you have in your fridge would make a nice addition to this soup.

Chop up your fennel and leeks. Make sure to thoroughly wash your leeks between each layer. The only thing that could ruin this soup is gritty leeks.

Chop up your potatoes.

Saute the fennel and leeks in a bit of butter and olive oil until they're nice and translucent.

Toss the potatoes into the saucepan with the fennel and leeks.

Add the broth. You can use vegetable broth to keep the soup vegetarian. Otherwise chicken broth is fine.

Simmer for about half an hour until the potatoes are tender.

Then puree the soup. An immersion blender is a great tool for the job. But you could also puree the soup in a blender or food processor or put it through a food mill.

Before serving you'll want to taste the soup for seasoning. You'll be surprised at how much salt this soup takes. It's good with plenty of pepper too.

Potato, Leek and Fennel Soup

Recipe from Bon Appétit

2 Tbsp (1/4 stick) butter
2 cups sliced leeks (white and pale green parts only)
2 cups sliced fennel bulb, fronds reserved for garnish
4 14 1/2-ounce cans low-salt chicken broth (use vegetable broth to keep the soup vegetarian)
2 pounds red-skinned potatoes, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 4 cups)

1.      Melt butter in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add leeks and fennel and sauté until leeks are translucent, about 7 minutes. Add broth and potatoes and bring to boil.

2.      Reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer soup until potatoes are very tender, about 25 minutes. Working in batches, purée soup in blender. Return to same pot. Rewarm soup if necessary.

3.      Season with salt and pepper. Ladle soup into bowls; garnish with reserved fennel fronds and serve.

Serves 8

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