Thursday, June 5, 2008

Fennel and Potato Soup

This is a quick easy soup which I pureed using a hand immersion blender, always be careful when doing this with hot liquids. Make sure to blend off the heat, keeping the blades completely submerged and the pan slightly tilted away from you. If using a blender make sure to use the cover and pulse the blades prior to turning the motor on. I don't strain my pureed soups at home because I don't like to throw away all that extra fiber that ends up in the strainer but if you want a more "refined" soup, strain. Depending on the vegetables used, about 1/4 of the volume will be lost.

The tops of the fennel were used be make the chicken stock, the rest of the fronds can be used like a herb, chop it up and toss into salads, eggs, or in sauteed vegetables.

Fennel and Potato Soup Recipe

2 T olive oil
1 T butter
1 each onion, white or yellow, medium diced
1 fennel bulb, cut in half lengthwise, remove core and slice against the grain
5 cloves garlic, smashed
4 cups diced potatoes
4 cups chicken stock, or enough to cover the ingredients
1 T toasted fennel seeds, ground

Fennel fronds for garnish

Heat a heavy bottomed pot and drizzle with olive oil and melt butter.

Toss in onions, fennel and garlic and saute slowly over a medium low heat. The fennel bulb is sliced against the grain to shorten the fibers in the end result since this soup will not be strained.

Sprinkle salt and pepper, toss and cook until the vegetables soften. Flavors can better layer is seasoned in layers.

Add the potatoes and chicken stock I like to use young white potatoes, yukon, red bliss potates for soups since they are creamier than russets. I didn't peel the white potatoes that I used and would only peel the red potatoes if using those. The chicken stock is homemade and can be replaced with store bought or even water.

Cover the pot and simmer until the potatoes are soft about 15-25 minutes

Meanwhile toast 1 T of fennel seeds in a hot small dry skillet, tossing until fragrant. Allow seeds to cool and grind in a mortar and pestle and set aside. Another way to grind the seeds is using a coffee grinder but you will need to toast more than 1 T, it should be enough seeds to fill at least a 1/4 of the grinder. Yet another way is to place the seeds on a cutting board and use the bottom of a skillet with a rocking motion.

When potatoes are cooked, remove pot from stove and puree until smooth, seasoning during the
process with salt, freshly ground white pepper and ground fennel.

Finish off the balance of the soup with a splash of something acidic and something sweet to adjust to your taste. I started with 1 T of rice vinegar and ended up with 2 T more and 1 T of agave syrup. Other options are apple cider vinegar or white wine vinegar for the acidity and sugar, white or brown, adjust to your preference, ideally it should just be a hint of acidity and sweetness.

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