Monday, October 21, 2013

Fennel Potato Leek Soup

My good friends at Virtual Potluck have put together a potluck you're going to love - it's all about slow cookers.

I love cooking in a slow cooker. I can let it run all day while I'm off running errands or otherwise occupied at home, or I can let it run all night - that's usually what I do when I cook a chicken or turkey - the spare parts never make it to the refrigerator, they go right into the slow cooker.

This time around, our party has two sponsors - Harvard Common Press who provided the cookbooks, and Hamilton Beach who provided the slow cookers.

And that's really good for YOU because we have slow coolers and cookbooks to give away to our readers. Won't that be fun?

The slow cookers we all received were the 6-quart programmable Set 'n Forget cookers with a temperature probe (so you can set the cooker to turn off based on temperature) and also clips that hold the lid onto the cooker for safer transport.

But first - a recipe! Because you know that's what I'm all about. This one is from Not Your Mothers Slow Cooker Recipes for Two by Beth Hensperger.

The recipes in this book are sized for two people and for smaller slow cookers, but I had no problem cooking this in a larger cooker. And of course, if you find a recipe you love, you can always double or even triple it. That's a heck of a lot easier than trying to halve a larger recipe.

Fennel Potato Leek Soup
Adapted from Not Your Mothers Slow Cooker Recipes for Two by Beth Hensperger

1 large leek (white part only), end trimmed and thinly sliced
1/2 cup diced fresh fennel
2 large russet potatoes, peeled and diced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
4 to 6 cups water, chicken broth, or vegetable broth, canned or homemade
Pinch of cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 cup plain soymilk or low-fat milk (optional)

Put the leek, fennel, potatoes and parsley into the slow cooker. Add the water. If you're planning on adding the milk later, use 4 cups of water, otherwise use the full 6 cups.

Cover and cook on high for 4-6 hours, until the potatoes are tender.

Using an immersion blender, puree the soup. You can also puree the soup in batches in a blender - be careful if you do this - blend in small batches. Add the cayenne and the butter. Stir in the milk, if you're using it.

Serve hot.

This was a really good soup - if you're a little afraid of fennel, this is a great way to ease into the flavor, since it's very subtle here.

And it was easy to make - just cook and blend and serve. Since you're blending, overcooking isn't an issue, so this could be set to cook for the full 6 hours and if it has to wait for you to come home, it would be perfectly fine waiting on the keep-warm setting. Then just blend and serve.

Hey, how about a giveaway?

There are SEVEN other Virtual Potluck members participating in the slow cooker potluck and giveaway, and that means there will be a total of eight winners, each receiving a slow cooker and a slow cooker cookbook.

And the really cool thing is that there are four different books up for grabs, so be sure to check out all the other Virtual Potluck members and see which books they used.

The recipes will be going live all this week, so you've got plenty of time for browsing.

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