Winter is officially upon us. When I got up this morning and peeked through the window all I could see was white. For a second I thought it snowed, but actually the whole countryside was frosted with ice. Slowly as the sun rose, the ice melted and the once bleak landscape got infused with a lush green. That’s what I love about England; lots of rain keeps the vegetation green. In the South African province Gauteng (Transvaal for older readers), hard rain comes down in spring and summer, whereas in the winter the atmosphere is bone dry and the scenery a mosaic of yellow and brown. I guess each setting has got its own appeal and it’s a matter of preference.
Back to food. Soup is my number one comfort food in the winter. The combinations of ingredients that you can use are endless, which leaves plenty of room for creativity. The reasons I love using potatoes in soups are: it gives more substance to an otherwise light soup; and it gives the soup a smooth, almost creamy consistency. If you have trouble with your kids trying new foods, you can serve the soup with these teddy bear buns which would definitely seal the deal.
Potato, Fennel & Caraway Soup
Preparation: 5 mins – Cooking: 30 mins
- 25g (1 oz) butter
- 2 onions (weight ± 450g/1 lb), peeled and thinly sliced
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
- 5ml (1 tsp) salt
- 4 medium potatoes (weight ± 900g/2 lb), peeled and diced
- 1 fennel bulb, trimmed and finely chopped
- 2.5ml (½ tsp) caraway seeds
- 1L (1¾ pints) vegetable stock
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- parsley, for garnishing
- Melt the butter in a large heavy-based saucepan. Add the onions, with the garlic and half the salt, and cook over a medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 7-10 minutes, or until the onion are very soft and beginning to turn brown.
- Add the potatoes, fennel bulb, caraway seeds and the remaining salt. Cook for about 5 minutes, then pour in the vegetable stock.
- Bring to the boil, partially cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender.
- Set aside to cool slightly, then purée in a blender or food processor until smooth.
- Season with salt and pepper and return to the saucepan and reheat gently until piping hot. Garnish with parsley and serve immediately.
- Allow to cool slightly then pour into a food processor or blender and blend until smooth. Reheat the soup gently, then ladle into individual soup bowls. For a chunky soup, omit this blending stage and ladle straight from the saucepan into bowls.
- Any type of bread on the side will do.
- If you prefer chunky soup, you don’t have to blend the soup and serve as it is.
- Lactose intolerants can use oil instead of butter.