The EatWell Farm CSA box yielded a second bunch of leeks this week (we had not yet used the first bunch from last week's box) as well as several anise-scented bulbs of baby fennel with soft feathery greens. Potato Leek Soup with Fennel & Herbs
As I was standing in front of the open refrigerator (wasting energy, I know, I know) clutching my head in my hands and despairing of how I would ever use up all of this lovely, fresh, organic, locally-grown produce, inspiration struck! It came in the form of a potato leek soup recipe from the Soup volume of the wonderful Williams-Sonoma Soup cookbook series.
The Williams-Sonoma books are really a pleasure -- they offer beautiful pictures and down to earth recipes with clear instructions and in a very manageable size. Although I love cookbooks like Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone and The Joy of Cooking with a passion, sometimes the sheer enormity of those volumes can leave me feeling a little overwhelmed -- there is something nice about a cookbook that features only 40 or so recipes. Anyway, I digress...
Potato leek soup has a fresh, yet hearty taste and the fennel and herbs in this version also give it an added touch of spring. This soup is an excellent choice for an invalid since it can be completely pureed and cooked without any dairy (though I usually add some milk.) It's a flexible soup so you can play around with the flavorings a bit with good results. Here's the recipe for my variation.
* 2 large organic baking potatoes, peeled and sliced
* 6-8 leeks, white parts only, washed and chopped (the more the merrier when it comes to the leeks as far as I'm concerned - feel free to use more than this if you have them handy!)
* 2 large fennel bulbs, washed and thinly sliced (chop some of the washed greens and reserve for garnish)
* 6 cups chicken or vegetable stock (if you use chicken, get the free range organic kind or make your own)
* 1 cup of whole organic milk (this is optional)
* 3 Tbsps olive oil or butter
* 2 Tbsps chopped flat leaf parsley
* 2 Tbsps chopped cilantro
* Sea salt
* Freshly ground black pepper
1. Heat the butter or oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add the leaks and saute them until soft - 4-5 minutes. Add the fennel and potatoes and continue to saute until softened, another 8-10 minutes.
2. Add the stock and bring to a simmer. Cook until the vegetables are completely softened, about 20 minutes. Add the herbs and cook another 3-5 minutes.
3. Puree the soup in the pot using an immersion blender until completely smooth or to desired consistency (you can use a blender and do this in batches if you don't have an immersion blender but you should really get one - they're the bomb!)
4. Season to taste with the salt and pepper. Reheat if necessary and serve warm, garnished with the fennel leaves.
Goes nicely with buttered, salted slices of sweet baguette or some other loaf and a fresh, crispy salad.
Potato Leek Soup with Fennel & Herbs