Fennel and Potato Soup
(Zuppa di Finocchio e Patate)
As the fennel in this soup cooks in the simmering liquid, it breaks down, thickening the broth. You can prepare this dish as a hot soup, but it is just as delicious served cold.
3 medium fennel bulbs
1 tbsp. butter
1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
3 shallots, peeled and finely chopped
4 cups Chicken Stock
1 large russet potato, peeled and cubed
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. Trim, quarter, and core fennel, then slice into medium-size pieces, reserving feathery leaves from one of the bulbs. (You will need about 2 tbsp. of fennel leaves.) Heat butter and olive oil together in a medium pot over medium-low heat. When butter has melted, add sliced fennel, shallots, and 1 cup of the stock. Cover and simmer gently until fennel is soft and translucent, about 15 minutes.
2. Increase heat to medium, add potatoes and remaining 3 cups stock, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer gently until potatoes are very soft and cooked through, about 25 minutes. Season soup to taste with salt and pepper.
3. Gently mash the vegetables with a potato masher or the back of a wooden spoon until the soup is thick and chunky (but not puréed), adding a little water or additional stock if it becomes too thick. Chop the reserved fennel leaves, then stir into soup. Remove soup from heat and set aside for 5 minutes to allow flavors to develop. Ladle soup into four bowls and serve warm, drizzled with extra-virgin olive oil, if you like.