Monday, February 2, 2009

Potato, Leek and Fennel Soup

I have been curious about fennel ever since my honeymoon (three years ago!)  At a restaurant we were served bread with some kind of spread that was delicious!  We asked what it was and were thoroughly confused when we were told "Sun Dried Tomato, Fennel Aioli."  We knew sun dried tomato but we had no idea what fennel or aioli was.  Since then I have watched a lot of cooking shows and looked at many blogs and learned a lot.  I was disgusted to find out that aioli is really just a fancy mayonnaise (one of my least favorite foods of all time.)  And I was also disappointed to hear that fennel has an anise flavor (black licorice is quite possible the grossest candy in existence.)  But because that spread was so good, my ears still perk up when I hear the word fennel.

I was thumbing through my Bon Appetit Cookbook and saw a recipe for Potato, Leek, and Fennel Soup.  I suggested it to Brett and he shot it down immediately because of the fennel.  He has also learned of its anise flavor which has completely scared him off.  Rather than turning the page, I decided that I would make the soup just for me for lunch during the week.  Brett wouldn't have to even look at it.

I had never worked with fennel before, so I was very excited.  I sauteed the chopped fennel and leeks in a tiny bit of butter, but I think they went a little too long because brown was starting to show in the bottom of the pot.  I deglazed with some chicken stock which made the soup a deep brown and then I threw the chopped red potatoes in to boil.

In the past I have had bad luck with pureed soups.  The  Spiced Squash and Apple Soup was one of a few that I've tried and have not been able to eat an entire bowl of.  Brett always gets stuck with the leftover pureed soup.  So you can imagine that when the recipe called to puree the soup I got nervous.  You might be thinking, "Just don't puree the soup!" but pureed soups pose a dilemma for me because I LOVE using my immersion blender.  Do I have fun using the blender and risk an inedible soup?  Or do I leave the blender in the cabinet and not have textural problems when eating?  Well, the blender won.

It made an already questionable soup look even less appetizing.  I don't even think the reserved fennel fronds for garnish could have helped this look good.  But I always value taste over appearance and I have to say that this is a keeper.  The texture did bother me a little, but that was far outweighed by the flavor.  There was no anise flavor that I could detect, it was just yummy!  I did have leftovers and happily ate them for the next two days... Brett missed out on this one!  The only change I might make next time would be to fish out half the potatoes before pureeing it.  That way it will still have some of the creamy texture but not enough to distract me.

No comments: