Saturday, April 21, 2007

On My Hearth: Potato Soup

Beren's girls are here for the weekend so we're continuing on with our own little A-Z Veggie Adventure. We're up to the letter "F" which is a tricky one, have decided on fennel which, if eaten straight, might not appeal to them. So we are going to try Veggie Venture's Potato Soup which has just a hint of fennel. I'm going take the girls to Fresh Market this morning to pick out the ingredients and then let them help with the prep work. I think an important step to loving your food, especially vegetables, is being part of the whole process from selection to final cooking. I can't imagine anyone going into Fresh Market and not falling in love with veggies, their presentation is just so gorgeous!

Here's the recipe, I'll post a review after consumption! (I'll be using vegetable broth instead of chicken so the vegetarians in the castle can enjoy it).


Hands-on time: 30 minutes
Time to table: 90 minutes
Makes 6 cups without and 7 cups with added cream/yogurt

4 cups chicken broth
1 tablespoon butter
3 leeks, cleaned (how to clean) and white/light green parts chopped fine
8 ounces fresh fennel, chopped fine
1 tablespoon garlic (from a jar, of course!)
2 tablespoons water
1 pound red-skinned potatoes, skins on, diced small
8 ounces carrot, peeled and diced small
1 tablespoon fresh herbs, chopped (the recipe specified tarragon which I think would have been perfect, certainly better than the savory I picked at the grocery)
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup half 'n' half (optional, I like the fat-free half'n'half in soups)
1/2 cup Greek yogurt (optional)

Bring the broth to a boil in the microwave.

Melt the butter in a large pot or Dutch oven over MEDIUM HIGH. When it's hot, add the leeks and fennel as they're prepped, then the garlic and water. (Less butter is needed when water provides a tad more cooking liquid.) Cook until soft and pungent, about 10 minutes.

Add the potatoes, carrots and broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to MEDIUM, cover and let cook unattended for about 30 minutes. Stir in the herbs. Season to taste with salt and pepper and let cook another few minutes.

Now, choices:

* Eat as is, lots of lovely lumps of vegetables.
* Remove some of the vegetables with a slotted spoon and puree the rest, preferably right there in the pot with an immersion blender. Return the vegetables to the pot.
* Puree the whole darn pot.

Now more choices:

* If you're cooking ahead, stop here and refrigerate the soup to let the flavors meld. (A good choice.)
* Consider eating as is, without the added calories/fat of the cream and yogurt. At the very least, try it! Learn how it tastes without the richness and then decide. I decided to add a spoonful of richness on top, keeping the creaminess concentrated rather than diffused throughout -- this was more than satisfying.
* Or, add the cream and yogurt and let heat but do not allow to boil.

Per Cup (makes 6 cups), without cream and yogurt: 177 Cal (34% from Fat, 13% from Protein, 53% from Carb); 6 g Protein; 7 g Tot Fat; 4 g Sat Fat; 25 g Carb; 4 g Fiber; 99 mg Calcium; 2 mg Iron; 465 mg Sodium; 20 mg Cholesterol, Weight Watchers 3 points

Per Cup (makes 7 cups), with cream and yogurt: 148 Cal (31% from Fat, 14% from Protein, 54% from Carb); 5 g Protein; 5 g Tot Fat; 3 g Sat Fat; 21 g Carb; 3 g Fiber; 67 mg Calcium; 1 mg Iron; 392 mg Sodium; 14 mg Cholesterol, Weight Watchers 3 points

Note: Yes, the nutrition math is right, at least I checked it twice. The difference is the change in the number of servings from the two versions.


* Bringing the broth to a boil ahead of time saves a few minutes cooking time later. Skip this step if you're not in a hurry. That said, I often do it even when there's no hurry because it's quite often that the "active prep time" concludes at the same time the soup comes to a boil and can be left unattended.
* If you're going to puree the whole batch, then how large/small you chop the vegetables makes little difference.

VERY adapted from Bon Appetit, April 2003


Mother of Invention said...

I love potato soup but I don't really care for fennel for some reason. I'm sure you could leave it out.

Rapunzel said...

Mother of Invention, I am sure you could leave it out. I do like fennel and have fond memories of Italian dinners at Strider's family home where fennel stalks were passed around the table, raw! Does anyone know if that's an Italian thing or just unique to their family?

Rote Silke said...

Probably Italian. Finocchio, which is fennel in Italian, seems to be quite a big thing in that cuisine. Just talking about finocchio (I learned the word in Italian, so I think of it more that way) brings back fond memories of trying to learn Italian...didn't learn much of it, but I had a good time.

Rapunzel said...

Silke, I wrote to Strider's sister to see if she can fill me in. *grin*
She was one of the main cooks in the family so I'm sure she'll remember. Kali is quite fluent in Italian, took 3 years of it in high school. I'm counting on her to translate when I run away from home and move to Italy. ;-)

Rapunzel said...

P.S. Strider's sister wrote me back (thank you!) with this note:

You are right about the fennel! For my grandmother, no holiday Italian feast was complete without the fennel. That was brought out after dinner along with mixed nuts, figs and the fruit bowl! My grandparents called it fenoik, although the real Italian word is probably a lot different. The fennel has sort of a licorice flavor and is supposed to aid digestion. Thanks for bringing back some memories!

Mother of Invention said...

Interesting...I like most things that taste like licorice...galliano liqueur!
Does it taste like that when you cook with it? Maybe I'm getting it mixed up with another spice???!

Rapunzel said...

Mother of Invention, it has a very subtle licorice taste when you cook with it, at least this amount per volume of soup.

Alanna said...

Aha. It's potato soup, so of course one could leave out the fennel. But fennel adds a sweetness to the potatoes' earthiness. It's a great addition. And since this crowd is so fascinated ;-) by fennel, here's something to add to the conversation, XXX, male and female fennel!!

Rapunzel said...

Alanna, thanks so much for stopping by, I am honored to have you visit!

ooh, I was indeed intrigued by the male & female fennel, had to zip right over there to take a peek. I am drooling to the market I go!