Thursday, February 23, 2012

40 Meatless Meals: Creamy Fennel and Potato Soup

Let's start off with a two-for-one recipe. One of my favorite tricks for filling out a soup entree is to serve it in bread bowls, so I've included my favorite recipe for those below.
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3.5 cups coarsely chopped cored fresh fennel bulbs (from about 1 large)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 8 ounces white-skinned potatoes, peeled, diced
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 teaspoons (or more) fresh lemon juice
  • 3/4 cup whipping cream
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds, finely crushed
  • 3/4 teaspoon dried tarragon
Heat oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add fennel bulbs, onions, and potatoes; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Sauté until softened, about 8 minutes. Add broth and 2 teaspoons lemon juice; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer until vegetables are very tender, about 30 minutes. Cool slightly.

Meanwhile, bring cream, fennel seeds, and tarragon to boil in heavy small saucepan. Reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes. Remove from heat; cover and let stand 20 minutes so that flavors blend. Working in batches, puree soup in blender until smooth. Return soup to same pot. Stir in cream mixture. Simmer until flavors blend, thinning with more broth if desired, about 5 minutes.

Season to taste with salt and pepper and more lemon juice, if desired.

Bonus Recipe:
Italian Bread Bowls
  • 2 packages active dry yeast
  • 2 1/2 cups warm water
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 7 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon cornmeal
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 tablespoon water
In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Let stand until about 10 minutes.

Add salt, oil and 4 cups flour to the yeast mixture; beat well. Stir in the remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, beating well with an electric mixer at medium speed after each addition. When the dough has pulled together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 6 minutes.

Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat with oil. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 40 minutes. Divide dough into 8 equal portions. Shape each portion into a 4 inch round loaf.* Place loaves on baking sheets lined with parchment or a baking mat, sprinkled with cornmeal. Cover and let rise in a warm place, free from drafts, until doubled in bulk, about 35 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). In a small bowl, beat together egg white and 1 tablespoon water; lightly brush the loaves with half of this egg wash.

Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes. Brush with remaining egg mixture, and bake 10 to 15 more minutes or until golden. Cool on wire racks.

To make bowls: Cut a 1/2 inch thick slice from top of each loaf; scoop out centers, leaving 3/4-inch-thick shells.

*NB: When shaping, I recommend following this method for shaping rolls. This aligns the proteins in the dough and helps the bread to rise instead of spreading. You can easily see the difference below:

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