Florence fennel and potato soup

Hello hello, I hope I find you well. Had a little breakingtons there, mainly due to two things: illness and… we are selling our little house in Manchester and buying a farm in the Peak District! In a recent blog post I shared with you my feelings about moving back to Derbyshire (Adam and I had been debating about it for a long time). Well, I had a little Rightmove session and there it was. Our home-to-be. At the time, upon the initial perusal, it was sold, but luckily for us the sale fell through so they called us up. We aren’t quite the owners yet, but things are proceeding nicely. It’s scary, but very exciting too. It’s a proper farm, a big project with land, so we’ll be renting for at least 6 months while we do it up. We hope to have chickens, a veg patch, an orchard – the lot. I can’t wait to document it all on here so expect lots of pictures of a farm renovation in progress – alongside my usual recipe pics of course, I’m not about to turn WWW into a building blog.

House viewings have kept me stupidly busy. Having to constantly clean with a baby in tow is hard work. But hopefully the hard work is paying off and we’re not too far away from a sale. We will miss Chorlton so much: the multi ethnic food shopping possibilities; fantastic Beech Road; access to a buzzing city. But we hope that village life will be just as fulfilling. I know we’re going to love it. As long as there’s life around me, I’m happy.

So, the other reason I haven’t posted in a while is illness. So tiresome. The kids and I have been ill for about 3 or 4 weeks, solid. A nasty cold / chest bug that made breathing painful at times. Kids both up several times each night. Yeah, it’s a testing time of year for parents. We are all on the mend, and I have resolved to stuff their tummies full to bursting with fruit and veg. A soup is a great way to do that, and they both always devour soup, no matter what it is. This thick and creamy soup will please anyone, I guarantee you. Don’t be put off by the aniseed-y flavour of fennel, as it’s so mellow when cooked. I would describe the flavour of it as aromatic rather than intrusively aniseed-y. Put it this way: I loathe aniseed but I love florence fennel.

I grated parmesan on mine (lovely), but Adam tried a mature cheddar and it worked even better. A dribble of good oil is all else that is needed.

Makes: 4-6 bowls of soup

Prep time: 20 minutes

Cook time: 20 minutes

Total time: 40 minutes

Ingredients: 
1 large florence fennel, just take the bottom and very tops off – keep the stalks and fronds, roughly chopped into 2cm chunks
5 small potatoes (about 500g peeled) diced into roughly 1cm cubes
1 onion, roughly chopped
1 pint whole milk
1/2 pint weak stock or water
1 heaped teaspoon of English mustard
Salt
Generous grating of parmesan or mature cheddar
Extra virgin olive oil

Instructions

  1. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil over a medium heat in a heavy bottom pan. Soften your onion in the oil for 5 minutes. Don’t allow them to colour.
  2. Add your fennel and a large knob of butter. Stir, turn the heat down, and let it slowly soften for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Now tip your cubed potatoes in. Add your milk and stock, turn the heat back up, and let it come to the boil. Stir in the English mustard. This adds a little depth and nice colour too. Don’t worry, it won’t taste hot. Lower your heat to a simmer for 20 minutes or until the potato is cooked.
  4. Whizz the soup. Season. Serve with lots of cheese and some good oil. Some crusty bread wouldn’t offend either.
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8 Comments

  1. January 7, 2014 / 6:57 pm

    Oh congrats on buying a farm!!!! Well done you two for going for it!. Can't wait to hear all about it, so very very exciting. When do you hope to complete? Lovely recipe too, I've never used fennel in soup but may just have to now.

  2. January 7, 2014 / 6:57 pm

    How exciting!! Hope everything goes to plan with the move, can't wait to hear/see more 🙂 I miss having a veggie patch and chickens, one day….xoxo

  3. January 7, 2014 / 6:57 pm

    Welcome back! Missed your posts. Congratulations on your big move, sounds wonderful! X

  4. January 7, 2014 / 6:57 pm

    Your soup looks gorgeous. I love fennel and soft cooked like this the flavour becomes so mild and delicious. Bookmarking x

  5. February 13, 2014 / 4:57 pm

    Hi Lou! Thanks for the comments and sorry no response for a while! Yeah fennel in soup is amazing! So fragrant. Your blog is ace by the way, you're doing a great job! X

  6. February 13, 2014 / 4:58 pm

    Hi… it is all going to plan, so far anyway. Can't wait for the chickens and veg patch too! X

  7. February 13, 2014 / 4:59 pm

    Hi Anneli – yes it is, we eat a lot of fennel, love it. Really chuffed you are bookmarking! X

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