Posts filed under ‘Fall’

Potato Fennel Leek Soup

Well, I am running a bit behind on posting things, but I guess that just means that I have a back log of tasty material to share.  Fall has arrived in force in recent days, which means I am loving soup.

I have a recipe that I like fairly well for Potato Leek soup, from The New Best Recipe, so when I saw some wonderful leeks at the Farmer’s Market last week I knew that I had to make it again.  The woman who was ringing me up at the booth asked if I had ever cooked with fennel.  I said that I hadn’t, and she immediately began telling me about her fennel dill potato leek soup.  I was intrigued, so she sold me a fennel root (it came with root, stems, and fronds) and I carted it off home with me.

I wasn’t quite sure what I was going to do with it exactly, though she did tell me she used it in place of some of the leeks in her recipe.  I decided that I wanted to play around with the soup and left the recipe behind, though the cooking process was still fairly similar.

This soup knocks the socks off of the one I used to make out of the recipe book.  Don’t get me wrong, that one is good as well, but in comparison the flavors are a bit flat.  The addition of the fennel adds a lovely subtle depth to the soup.  I couldn’t stop eating it.  I have probably eaten it about five times in the last four days, and been really thrilled to be eating it every single time.

Here’s the recipe.  It makes about 5 quarts of soup, so invite friends to help you.  Or hoard it for yourself.  =)

Potato Fennel Leek Soup

14 Tablespoons of Unsalted Butter (1.75 sticks)
1 large Fennel Bulb (roughly the size of your fist, or 4 – 5 inches across)
5 large Leeks (1.5 to 2 inches in diameter, with 10 – 12 inches of usable white or light green stalk)
2 Tablespoons flour
8 cups Low Sodium Vegetable Stock (I used 2 cartons of Pacific Organics)
2.5 pounds of Redskin Potatoes
5 medium to large Bay Leaves
Salt and Pepper to taste

We will be prepping all the vegetables at the start.  Begin by prepping the fennel.  Most of the time you will get it with the stalks and fronds attached.  Cut off the fronds and stalks, set aside if you wish to use them for a soup stock ingredient at a later time.  Slice off about 1/2″ from the bottom and then slice the fennel root bulb to quarter it.  You then want to remove and discard the core, which will appear like wedges of slightly denser material in the center.  Finely chop the fennel bulb.

Next, the leeks.  We will be using the white and light green parts of the leeks.  Go ahead and chop off the top where it starts getting very green and discard that portion.  Leeks can trap a lot of dirt, so we’ll want to give them a good wash.  One of the most efficient ways to do this is to hold the leek upright and use a knife to cut down the center (creating two half circle portions) til you are about 1″ from the bottom.  Then take the leek and fan the cut portions while holding it under running water.  This should rinse all the dirt and debris out.  You may need to fan a few times, depending on how clean they are inside.  Once your leeks are clean, cut off the bottom 1/2″.  The remaining leek is what you will chop into roughly 1/2″ pieces moving down the length.  This will leave you with a really large pile of semi-circle pieces, which looks like an enormous
version of chopped green onions.

Wash the potatoes.  Some people prefer to peel them, but I appreciate the additional texture and visual interest given by the peel.  Quarter them lengthwise and then cut them into 1/2 to 3/4 inch pieces.  1/2″ pieces will have a much softer cook, 3/4 inch pieces will be a little more firm, you can pick your preference.

Put a large stock pot on over medium heat.  Add the butter and swirl a few times.  Once you start seeing little foamy bubbles, add the fennel.  Let it saute in the butter for about 5 minutes.  Next add the leeks.  They will take up a lot of the volume of the pan.  Give them a good stir and cover, stirring several times over the first few minutes.  They will cook covered for 20 – 25 minutes with occasional stirring until they are translucent and soft, but not browning.

Once translucent, turn the heat up to high and slowly stir in your soup stock.  Add the potatoes and the bay leaves.  Bring the whole pot to a boil, then lower the heat a bit and cook for about 8 minutes.

Finally, turn off the heat and move the pan to a cool burner.  Let the whole pot of soup sit, covered, for 20 to 25 minutes.  The potatoes should be nice and tender, but still have good piece identity.  At this point you
can salt and pepper to taste, or let each person individually do so.  Serve shortly there after.  This soup does well with a bread accompaniment and you will likely see people dipping it into their soup.


October 26, 2009 at 4:43 pm Leave a comment