Roasted Fennel and Potato SoupDec 30th, 2011 | By Cecilia | Category: blog, cook something, soups and salads
When you use winter vegetables in soup, you end up with something savory and delicious that warms and comforts you on those cold gray days.
Renee Studebaker, writes about gardening and food for the Austin American Statesman. [NOTE: Renee left the Statesman in the middle of 2011, and has started a new blog called Renee's New Blog, where she writes about the intersection of gardening, food and life.]
Renee learned to love the flavors of all fresh produce thanks to the not so lazy summers she spent on her grandmother’s Arkansas farm helping in the garden.
Renee admits she wasn’t initially enamored of the work involved in getting that food to the table, but always appreciated the end result she found on her plate.
Now, she is an avid food gardener. Those days of hard work and good food informed the way she lives and cooks.
Her winter garden provides the inspiration for the recipe she shares with us this week.
Renee says she doesn’t think her grandmother ever tasted fennel, but feels certain she would have liked growing it and eating it just as much as Renee does today.
Fennel’s flavor is bright and anise-like; it’s great alone or as a flavoring for other dishes. Renee suggests stuffing a few of the feathey fronds into a chicken before roasting so the fennel flavor permeates the chicken meat, or throw a frond or two into your stock pot for a sublime surprise. Or, she says, bake fennel in a casserole with potatoes, one of its best vegetable soulmates, or cook the two together for a creamy bowl of winter comfort soup:
Renee Studebaker’s Roasted Fennel and Potato Soup
- 1-2 Tbsps butter
- 3 Tbsps olive oil
- 3 small yukon gold potatoes, peeled, halved and sliced
- 3 large fennel bulbs, fronds removed, and any bruised or brown outer layers peeled away
- 3 Tbsps shallot, chopped
- 1/4 cup onion, chopped
- 1/4 cup dry white wine
- 4 cloves garlic, crushed and chopped
- 3 cups chicken stock (homemade is best)
- 1/4 cup cream
- 1/4 cup milk
- 1/4 cup grated white cheddar cheese (sharp)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Filtered water, if needed to thin soup
- Small fennel fronds for garnish
- To a hot heavy skillet add 1Tbsp. butter and 1Tbsp. olive oil.
- Add potatoes, generous pinch of salt and pepper, and stir to coat potato pieces with oil.
- Cook over medium low heat until potatoes are tender and begin to caramelize. Add more butter if potatoes seem too dry. (Aim for some browned potato bits on bottom of pan, but don’t allow to burn.)
- Pour wine (or a bit of stock) into pan, and stir to loosen brown bits. Then pour into soup pot.
- Meanwhile, lightly salt fennel and toss with remaining olive oil. Spread out in a single layer on baking sheet so that pieces are not overlapping. Roast at 375 for about 15 minutes, or until fennel is brown around edges and tender.
- Add cooked fennel and stock to pot of potatoes and cook over low heat.
- Meanwhile sautee onion and shallot in remaining olive oil over medium low heat until edges just start to get barely brown, then stir in garlic and sautee a few minutes more.
- Pour onion garlic mixture into soup pot. Add milk, cream, cheese and continue cooking over mediumn heat for about 10 minutes more.
- Taste and adjust seasoning if needed.
- Remove from heat and puree in small batches in a processor or simply puree in pot using an immersion blender (my most favorite kitchen tool!).
- Thin soup to your liking by adding water or additional stock.
Serve hot, garnished with fresh fennel.
Variations: Top each bowl of soup with a Tbsp. of cooked, crumbled spicy Italian sausage. Or top with a chiffonade of baby kale leaves instead of fennel. For vegan soup, omit milk, cheese and butter.