20 November 2011

Roasted Garlic Potato, Leek and Fennel Soup with a Puff Pastry "Top Hat"

Roasted Garlic Potato, Leek and Fennel Soup with Puff Pastry Topping
Roasted Garlic Potato, Leek and Fennel Soup witha Puff Pastry "Top Hat"

When I was young I was a very picky eater. I am sure that my parents agonized over my lack of nutrients and enjoyment of food as I pushed my food around my plate. As you get older your palate changes and you can learn to love food and be excited by the possibilities of sharing a great meal. So for you moms out there who are worried about your childs eating habits I am here to tell you there is hope!

As a teen I collected recipes like hockey cards and dreamed of the day when I would have dinner parties and friends sharing animated conversation, laughter and outstanding food at my table. Let's just say my first dinner party was not a great success with canned potatoes and carrots being in the picture somewhere. That was many years ago and I hope I have come far beyond Burnt Toast and canned ingredients, hence the reason this blog of almost five years is called More Than Burnt Toast.

When I first started learning to cook in my home kitchen, one of the initial things I discovered was that the key to outstanding meals was using good quality ingredients. As time passed I realized that this meant either growing or purchasing the best local ingredients available which with today's trends has become easier and easier with a resurgence of farmers markets, specialty food shops and local producers.

There’s something so wonderful about cooking from a recipe. By following the directions, ingredient for ingredient, you are channeling the culinary spirit of the chef that created the dish. When the dish is complete and you sample the flavours, you are able to sit back and take an objective view. You can marvel at the genius that married those singular flavours together but by cooking dishes created by the masters, you begin to understand the inspirations of a chef from the inside out.

What has taken me years to understand is that recipes are merely guidelines and are open to any interpretation. I used to follow recipes to the letter and they always turned out well, but as the years progressed, and I have become confident in the kitchen, I am more open to experimentation and substitution.The recipe is a starting point and a guideline since from there you are on your own and limited only by your imagination!

From that very first dinner party, and I use the term loosely, I taught myself to cook. One of the very first recipes that ever graced my dinner table was a Spicy Tomato Soup all decked out in its finery with a puff pastry "top hat." It has been more years that I would like to count, and the special occasion that warrented this special treatment eludes me, but not the food memory. For todays recipe I decided to try a different soup with the same application. This recipe with its fall flavours of fennel and leeks is based on a recipe found surfing the net from Howard Mann of the Vancouver Sun. I think he would approve of its star treatment!

Soup can be our best friend. It soothes our body and our spirit and is our strengthener in sickness and in health. It is a mothers best friend and can be made by the vat and frozen for those frantic days when no time can be spent in the kitchen. It is forgiving and accepts a stray carrot or stalk of celery that clutters the refrigerator. This soup was for a special occasion and more planned out but with its mellow garlic flavour and hint of anise it deserves all the accolades for a rich, earthy beginning to any holiday dinner.


**Roasted Garlic Potato, Leek and Fennel Soup with a Puff Pastry "Top Hat"**

20 garlic cloves, peeled
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
3 leeks, white and pale green parts
1 fennel bulb, diced
5 cups low sodium chicken broth (or use vegetable broth)
3 medium russet potatoes, peeled and diced
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped fine (or 1 tsp dried thyme)
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper, to taste
1 lb puff pastry
1 egg, for egg wash

1. Preheat oven to 325F while peeling garlic cloves. Place garlic cloves in small baking pan; add 1 tablespoons of the olive oil and stir to coat well. Roast for 20 minutes or until golden.

2. In large heavy saucepan heat remaining oil over medium heat. Add leeks and fennel; saute until mixture begins to brown slightly, about 10 minutes.

3.Add broth, potatoes, roasted garlic, thyme and bay leaves; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 40 minutes or until vegetables are tender.

4. Remove bay leaves and discard. Puree soup, in batches, in food processor or blender. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Ladle the soup into 4 soup bowls or ramekins.

5. Cut 4 rounds, each 2 inches larger in diameter than the top of the soup bowl (for a 5-inch bowl, cut a 7-inch round). To guide you, invert a bowl onto the flattened pastry and cut around it. You can gather and reroll the scraps once. Put the rounds on a baking sheet and refrigerate for 20 minutes.

6.  Brush the rim of each bowl with egg wash. Cover with a round of pastry and press the pastry firmly around the sides so the top is taut, like a drum. Make sure there are no cracks in the pastry. Brush the tops lightly with egg wash.

7. Bake in a 325 degree oven until the pastry is puffed and golden brown, about 25 minutes. Serve immediately.

Serves 4



You are reading this post on More Than Burnt Toast at http://morethanburnttoast.blogspot.com. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author and or owner of More Than Burnt Toast. All rights reserved by Valerie Harrison. Best Blogger Tips

21 comments:

  1. Wow Vall! look amazing! I love this:)

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  2. What a beautiful presentation! And the soup sounds delicious and healthy, so it's going on my list to try.

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  3. This fills many needs for me - a great soup and what's not to love when it has pastry on top :)

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  4. I used to be that kid who hated veggies so there's definitely hope for every child out there!

    This soup sounds awesome...and as with everything is totally amplified by that awesome crust!

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  5. Lovely post, Val. I enjoyed your memories of your first dinner party and how you've evolved.

    You know I love fennel and soup 'with a hat'...YUM!

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  6. Love the top hat Val. So elegant.
    Sam

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  7. Great recipe ! I made it! It`s delicious!!! And it looks great , too!

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  8. Wonderful post about how you've evolved since your first dinner party. I am not as imaginative as you, but I keep trying. :) I learn so much from all of you.
    20 garlic cloves? Yum! The soup look comforting and the little hat makes such a perfect presentation. What fun to break into it and find that lovely soup.

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  9. What a charming soup. A mere puff pastry can make anything look like company is coming. I was a picky eater too. Still am in some ways. I can't just eat anything. It ha to be good. But some of the things I hated as a kid I love now, like cabbage, brussels sprouts and liver as long as they are cooked properly.

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  10. this sounds fantastic, love all your ingredients and I'm crazy about puff pastry, yum!!

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  11. What an elegant way to serve soup. Like you I taught myself to cook and use recipes to guide me. I add my little touches to make it my way and at the same time to please whoever I am cooking for.
    Happy Cooking!
    Rita

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  12. You put a smile on my face...loved the story and let me tell you I will eat anything that has that puff pastry on top. My favorite since I first discovered chicken pot pies and I am still addicted to the. Hey I might make one!

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  13. This is a meal in itself! Not only does it look fabulous but I am equally sure it tastes great! I think we can safely say you've come a long way since burnt toast, Val!

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  14. It is fun to think back at the first conquests in the kitchen. I've always enjoyed cooking and love the creative aspect.

    Love the tophat on this delicious soup!

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  15. Oh my goodness Val.. that looks and sounds amazing!

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  16. I too, dreamed of having dinner parties at an early age. A true foodie from the beginning, but like you a picky eater at first. My favorite vegetable was canned corn. Fennel is such a nice addition to your beautiful soup. I am using it in stuffing this year. Great post Val.

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  17. I never think to top my soups, which is funny given how much I love pot pie!

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  18. I would love to come to your place for a dinner party. :) Just sayin'.

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  19. My grandma always says, "Sometimes you know more than the box." It's one of my favorite sayings from her :) This soup looks fantastic, but I think the top is my favorite part!

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  20. A really pretty dish with a great-tasting heart.

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  21. for the record, i look terrible in hats, but i'd wear one made of puff pastry simply because i could devour it later. this is a tasty dish, val!

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Welcome to my home. Thank you so much for choosing to stay a while and for sharing our lives through food. I appreciate all your comments, suggestions, daily encouragement and support.

Val

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