Potato & Fennel Chowder

Potato soups are a sure bet this time of year; just the thing to transition gently into spring. They make a simple, easy, healthy supper. In this recipe, the mild licorice flavor of fennel adds a refined note. Add a tart green salad and you’re set. The soup may be made a day or two ahead and it freezes well. Save a few of the feathery fennel fronds for garnish.

Serves 4 as an entrée

2 tablespoons butter
2 heads fennel, fronds removed, finely chopped
3 large leeks, white parts only, finely chopped and rinsed
1 Yellow Finn or Yukon Gold potatoes, scrubbed well and cut into 1-inch chunks
2 carrots grated
1 bay leaf
4 thyme sprigs
4 parsley branches
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup cream or half & half
Minced parsley for garnish
In a large heavy soup pot, melt the butter over medium-high heat and cook the fennel and leeks for several minutes, then add the potatoes, carrots, and the bay, thyme and parsley. Season with salt and pepper, lower the heat to medium, cover, and cook the vegetables, turning occasionally until they release their juices, remove the cover and continue cooking until they’ve lightly browned in places, about 10 minutes total.
Add about 6 cups water and a little more salt and pepper to taste. Increase the heat and bring to a boil. Then, lower the heat and simmer, partially covered, util the potatoes are soft, about 30 minutes. Press a few potatoes against the side of the pan to break them up and give the soup body. Add the cream or half and half and taste and adjust the seasoning.
Serve garnished with the chopped parsley

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