Friday, June 08, 2007

Cooling down after a busy hot day with a chilled potato soup...

The blast furnace of Mother Nature sure seemed to be working well today - not the best day to decide the lawn needed to be done unfortunately. It was very humid and hot - reminiscent of Phoenix, however the added humidity makes it so much worse. The realtor is coming tomorrow to take pictures, so the lawn had to get done along with a bunch of finishing work inside.

I should have probably scrapped plans for dinner tonight and just made sandwiches or something easy because it had been so crazy today, but I went ahead with the menu... I guess I'm stubborn that way! Jeff had been asking for homemade crackers again as it has been awhile since we made some and he really enjoyed the Multi-Seed Crackerbread and Crispy Rye Crackers I've made in the past. Thankfully, the recipe I used tonight, Herbed Cracker Bread, was easy enough and came together quickly.

The dough has no yeast, so the crackers are fairly thin and quite crisp - it is flavored with fresh grated Parmesan cheese, herbes de Provence, sugar, coarse black pepper and salt. I used the herbes de Provence that I bought from Penzey's Spices which includes rosemary, cracked fennel, thyme, basil, tarragon, lavender, and marjoram to add a special spark to the crackers - I think you could easily add your own blend of spices instead to make up the total 2 teaspoons of dried spice called for. I also used half white whole wheat flour to nudge in some whole grain, but you can just use the same amount of all-purpose flour if you don't already have it on hand. Sour cream is used in part of the liquid ingredients to give the crackers a little tenderness along with melted butter for crispness and to give them a snap.

The dough was not very sticky to begin with, but instead of using flour to help roll it out, yellow cornmeal ensures the dough does not stick and easily allows it to be rolled thin enough - it also added a savory crunch to the outside. Since you need two baking sheets for the dough, you may need to rotate them a couple of times, if needed, to make sure the crackers get evenly browned. Once they are golden and crisp, be sure to remove them from the pans and place them on wire racks to cool completely - letting the air get to the bottom and around the cracker sheets will also help give them the best texture.

I actually made dinner during a break I took from mowing the lawn - I wanted to get it done early so it had plenty of time to chill. While the bite I took from this Potato, Leek and Fennel Soup was very good warm this morning, I wanted to serve it chilled as a nice way to cool down at dinner time tonight. Mild leeks and delicate fennel are cooked in a bit of olive oil until they have softened. Chunky russet potatoes and a few cups of vegetable broth are added and the mixture cooked until the potatoes are falling-apart tender. I used my trusty immersion blender to purée the soup right in the pot, but you can always use a food processor - just make sure to do it in batches so you don't have overflow issues with hot soup.

I loved how soothing and brilliantly refreshing this soup was after being chilled - the anise flavor from the fennel just lingered in the background, tempting your palate to guess what that hidden flavor is. The potatoes added a rich creaminess - you will notice that the soup is a little "dirty" in regards to the color... potato skins don't bother us so we left them on, but feel free to peel them to get a more pure color. If you are looking for a more pungent, but not overpowering onion flavor, feel free to substitute green onions for the leeks.


  1. I would not have thought of potato soup as a hot weather meal, but yours with the cracker bread on the side sounds delish!

  2. Deborah - it was! Jeff used the crackerbread to dip into the soup and thought it was great that way too.