Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Good Soup

When I made this soup, my dining companion asked if I had a name for it.  I responded that I was open to suggestions, and the first name he came up with was “Good Soup.”  I’ll take it.

The idea for this soup just came one day when I was eating boiled turnips.  Whimsically throwing things together in a pot doesn’t usually work for me, but I was very pleased to find that this flavor combination worked as well in reality as it did in my imagination. 

The turnip and potato make for a nice starchy, earthy base that is complemented by the sweetness of the apple and slight spice of the fennel.  And sausage needs no explaining.  The soup is creamy without being heavy, and with a slice of soft buttered bread, I found it perfect for a rainy spring day.

Fun fact: potatoes are a rich source of potassium, and they also contain enough vitamin C to prevent scurvy.  Eat up, me hearties.

Good Soup

Soup Base:
1 medium turnip, peeled (generous 1 cup diced turnip)
1 small potato, peeled (generous ½ cup diced potato)
1 small onion, peeled (generous ½ cup diced onion)
½ medium fennel bulb (generous ½ cup diced fennel)
1 small apple, peeled (generous ½ cup large diced apple)

2 cups chicken broth (or 2 cups water + 2 teaspoons chicken soup base)

White Sauce:
1½ teaspoons butter
1½ teaspoons flour
1 cup milk
large pinch of salt
pepper to taste

1 Italian sausage link, casing removed
Optional toppings: French fried onions, croutons, or sautéed apples and onions

(You may do as much or as little multi-tasking as desired with the following steps.)

Make the Soup Base:
Combine the generous measurements of turnip, potato, onion, and fennel in a pot with the chicken broth.  (If you have extra chopped vegetables, see the optional step below.) Bring mixture to a boil.  Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for about 10 minutes.  Add the diced apple, and simmer for 2-5 minutes more until the vegetables and apple are all fork tender.  Remove from heat, and set aside to cool slightly.

Make the White Sauce:
Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat.  Sprinkle in the flour, whisking constantly, and cook until the mixture gets bubbly.  Still whisking, slowly pour in the milk until it is all combined.  Continue to cook and whisk until the mixture thickens and boils.  (The higher you turn the heat up for this stage, the faster it will cook and the faster you will want to stir.  Just be careful not to scorch it.)  Remove from heat, add salt and pepper, and set aside.

While vegetables are simmering, crumble the sausage into a frying pan and cook through, chopping to desired size.  Once cooked, remove the sausage with a slotted spoon, leaving the grease in the pan.

Optional Step: Sauté the extra chopped vegetables in the rendered fat from the sausage until just tender.  Add the apples, and continue to sauté until the apples have softened.  Set aside.

Puree the vegetable and broth mixture with an immersion blender, blender, or food processor.  Stir in the sausage, white sauce, and additional vegetables, if using.  Reheat to desired temperature, and serve.

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