Saturday, October 30, 2010

Roasted Potato Fennel Soup

I'm not crazy about following recipes generally, but I am crazy about Ina Garten. And I'm trying to become a better cook, which probably won't happen if I'm just always making stuff up without a ton of direction. I have recently acquired quite a few new cookbooks, so I'm hoping to expand myskills and learn some new techniques, which I can in turn pass on to you! The first thing I made out of "The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook" was this Roasted Potato Fennel Soup. It took a good bit of time (as soup generally will), but it was definitely worth it. I'm in a fall state of mind, even if it's still sundress weather around here for the most part. This was my first time using fennel, and I absolutely loved it. I still have a big tupperware container of this in the freezer, and I'm pretty sure Leon and I will have gotten about four meals out of this soup when all is said and done. Ina's recipe is supposed to serve 10-12 and I halved it. I'll post herportions so that you can adjust as you like.
This was a really nice, hearty and earthy fall soup. I'm not huge on potato soups typically, but the fennel adds a whole other dimension to this. Potato, fennel and onions should be cheap and easy to find in your grocery store during the colder months, unlike a lot of other produce. Serve with a cold salad or some crusty bread while wearing a pair of warm, fuzzy socks for maximum enjoyment.

Roasted Potato Fennel Soup


4 pounds red potatoes, unpeeled and quartered
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons good olive oil
1 tbsp. minced garlic (about three cloves)
1 tbsp. kosher salt
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
4 cups chopped yellow onions (4 onions)
4 cups chopped fennel bulb (about 2 pounds)
3 quarts chicken stock
1 cup heavy cream

Chopping that delicious, aromatic fennel

The soup boiling, shot with my new fisheye lens :)


1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. In a large bowl, toss the potatoes with 1/4 cup olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper. Spread on a baking sheet and roast for about 30 minutes, until cooked through. (I try to use high calorie items like butter and oil sparingly, so I used a little less than this but it still coated the potatoes).
3. Saute the onions and fennel with 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large stockpot on medium heat until translucent, 10 to 15 minutes.
4. Add the roasted potatoes (including pan scrapings, for flavor) and the chicken stock. Cover and bring to a boil. Lower the head and simmer uncovered for 1 hour, until all of the vegetables are very soft. Add teh heavy cream and allow the soup to cool slightly.
5. Pass the soup through the largest disk of a food mill or chop coarsely in the food processor. Add salt and pepper to taste and reheat if necessary.

Note: I used the food processor to homogenize the soup. The first time I put it through for a little too long, so there weren't any chunks of potato or other veggies. Just a couple pulses should do, check frequently to make sure that you don't over-process it.

One [run inhibiting] thing after another

I really hate looking and seeing how long it has been since I've updated. The last month has actually been kind of busy for me, in some good and bad ways. Things were going well with the running and I was excited to be really pushing myself. Then came the shin splints. I tried to work through them and do a run anyway, and completed it, but then I went to Zumba afterwords and had to leave after 20 minutes because I felt like I was about to die. I was hobbling up and down the stairs at school looking mighty pathetic, but I kept stretching so that I could jump back into running as soon as possible. My shins started feeling better and I was even comfortably bending my legs to go up and down stairs - great success! Then Leon and I both got sick and I was out of commission for another week. Things were looking up and I was finally ready to get back to my regular Monday Zumba class and climb back on that treadmill, but my car wouldn't start. This was probably the saddest roadblock of all.
I had been driving my Suzuki Swift for six years and we had spent over 50,000 miles driving together, from going out to lunch with friends my senior year of high school, to accompanying me on the first of many commutes to UCCS and eventually around Tallahassee - my new home far away from family. Sure, it looks like a clown car, but I bought it in high school with my hard earned McPaychecks from my first job. I knew it wasn't fancy, and decided that instead of a bumper sticker I would affix a BMW logo (which had fallen off of my father's motorcycle) to the back of my no-frills Japanese car to take advantage of the hilarious irony. I confused a few people over time who thought that I really did drive the shittiest BMW they had ever seen. I still chuckled when I saw the sad, worn BMW logo on the back of my car, which had acquired a few bumps and bruises over the years. The lack of power steering, power locks and decent acceleration didn't bother me much; however, having no air conditioning in Florida was a lot more horrible than going without it in Colorado. Even so, my little car kind of became symbolic to me, and it was sad to see our relationship coming to a close. Of course, I was a little less sentimental and a little more annoyed when I hadn't been to the grocery store in like a week and a half, couldn't go to the gym and was starting to rely on Jimmy John's to feed me the sentimental aspect wore off.
Nevertheless, things actually worked out quite well. Leon and I rented a car to go visit my grandmother and aunt in central Florida and a member of my aunt's family who works at a car dealership gave me a good deal on Toyota Corolla. It's pretty fancy compared to the good old Suzuki Swift, what with its air conditioning and non-crank windows. I sold the Swift about a week later and have already spotted it driving around town once. Finals are looming on the horizon now, so I don't know if my work out schedule is going to stabilize any time soon. This turned out to be a little longer than I had planned, but it's good to pay homage to my car, which I seem to have attributed a personality to over the years.

The last picture of me with the Swift, with my new car on the other side.
Needless to say, I was feeling very MTV Cribs-esque.