This recipe is adapted from Ina Garten’s The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook. There’s a tattered copy on our shelf — stained with years of reverent use. Though we love Ina, we also routinely doctor her recipes to reduce the fat and salt content. She’s heavy-handed in these areas, but her recipes are always simple, pure and consistently satisfying. You can omit the cream (or reduce) if you like, but it adds a lovely richness. We’ve already reduced it by half from the original. If you have leeks, substitute one for some of the onion.
This is a soup to make when you’re spending a quiet afternoon at home — catching up on laundry and paperwork, or hopefully something more fun like playing a board game with family. The active time involved is minimal but it does require a round of roasting in the oven as well as simmering on the stove. The time investment is worth every luscious bite. A hearty bowlful is absolute nirvana on a cold, dreary day — or a sunny California-winter one, too.
(serves 10 – 12)
- 3-1/2 pounds red potatoes, unpeeled and quartered
- Olive oil
- 4 cloves garlic
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 3 large yellow onions, peeled and chopped
- 2 medium fennel bulbs, chopped (fronds reserved)
- 2-1/2 quarts stock or water
- 1/2 cup cream
- Preheat oven to 400 ° F. Toss potatoes with oil just to coat, and garlic, salt and pepper. Spread on a baking sheet and roast until fork tender (about 30 minutes).
- Meanwhile sauté onions and fennel with about two tablespoons of olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Cook until onions are soft and beginning to turn brown (about 10 minutes). Add the roasted potatoes being sure to scrap any good bits left on the pan. Add the water/stock and bring to a boil. Simmer uncovered until the vegetables are ultra-soft (about 40 minutes).
- Add the cream, and more salt or pepper as needed. Process with a hand-held immersion blender or food processor until mostly smooth with some chunks and lumps left for texture.
- Return to pot and rewarm. Chop some of the reserved fennel fronds. Pour soup into bowls and garnish with fennel for serving.