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From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...You'd be hard pressed to find a room, parking spot or reservation in town today. University graduation has packed this small city to its rafters and sensible folks stay as far from the downtown area as they can. The Silver Fox and I are taking it a step further and we're heading to the coast until things return to normal around here. While there is one new restaurant we are curious to try, I'll be chief cook and bottle washer for most of the time we are away. The recipe I'm featuring tonight comes from Fine Cooking magazine and it is perfect for vacationers cooking in less than ideal kitchens. It is packed with flavor, quick to prepare and very easy on the palate. It's perfect for a lunch or light supper on the water. Fennel, which is readily available at this time of year, gives this soup remarkable flavor and help gives it texture as well. I usually add an extra potatoes to the pot to give it more substance. You can mash some of the potatoes in the pot to thicken the soup, but I've found it more effective to cook a potato separately, and then mash and add it to the soup as a thickener just before serving. This is very easy to make and it is delicious. I hope you will give it a try. Here's how the soup is made.
Sausage, Potato and Fennel Soup...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite courtesy of Fine Cooking magazine
1 tablespoon olive oil
3/4 pound sweet Italian sausage (about 4 links), casings removed
1 large russet potato, peeled and cut into large dice (about 2 cups)
1 medium red onion, cut into large dice
1 small fennel bulb, trimmed, cored, and cut into large dice (about 2 cups), plus 1 to 2 tablespoons chopped fennel fronds for garnish
3 tablespoons dry sherry
4 cups lower-salt chicken broth
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf
1/4 cup chopped oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1) Heat oil in a 4-quart saucepan over medium-high heat. Add sausage and cook, stirring with a wooden spatula to break it up into small pieces, until it starts to brown, about 3 minutes. Stir in potato, onion, and fennel and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion begins to soften, about 2 minutes. Add sherry and stir, scraping bottom of the pot to loosen any browned bits, about 30 seconds.
2) Stir in chicken broth and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat and simmer until potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork, 10 to 12 minutes.
3) Add parsley, sun-dried tomatoes, heavy cream, and lemon zest and stir until incorporated.
4) Using spatula or a potato masher, gently crush cooked potatoes until most of them are mashed and stew is somewhat thickened. Season with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Serve hot, garnished with fennel fronds. Yield: 4 servings.
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