This potato, leek, and broth base is a wonderful building block for an astounding number of flavorful, velvety soups. The recipe for fennel soup follows, but in place of the fennel, try adding a cup of chopped carrots, or corn off the cob, or chopped broccoli, or diced turnips. I could go on! The method is the same: First, you soften the vegetables, then add the broth and just a bit of cream, simmer, and purée. If you omit all the other vegetables, this becomes the perfect potato and leek soup; serve it chilled and you have a great vichyssoise.
1/4 cup olive oil
1 whole leek, trimmed and chopped
1/2 fennel bulb, trimmed and chopped, tops reserved for garnish
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 potato, peeled and roughly chopped
4 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup cream
Freshly ground black pepper
1. Heat the oil in a large heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat and sweat the leeks and fennel, stirring, for about 2 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 2 minutes more.
2. Add the potatoes, chicken broth, and cream. Bring to a boil, then reduce immediately to a simmer. Cook until the potatoes are soft, about 20 minutes.
3. Transfer the soup to a blender and purée. Season with salt and pepper. Garnish with chopped fennel fronds.
From My Family Table: A Passionate Plea for Home Cooking by John Besh/Andrews McMeel Publishing.
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