Fennel Potato Soup with Turnip Greens

This soup is not what I intended to make for dinner last night. My regularly scheduled menu was interrupted last week when my sister had a beautiful baby girl! My niece’s name is Ella, and the past few days have been completely absorbed by this new little member of our family. Thanks to Ella’s arrival, we ended up eating out for dinner on Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights with family.  I’m not complaining– how could I when I look at a face like Ella’s?– but I do have a lot of leftover produce in my fridge. Four meals’ worth, to be exact! Plus, heavy restaurant meals will make anyone feel bloated.

In order to knock out a lot of veggies and help my poor stomach, I turned to this Potato-Fennel soup recipe from the Mayo Clinic Foundation for Medical Education and Research. I knew the potatoes would give the soup a mild flavor, and fennel is supposed to be great for digestion.

I adapted the Mayo Clinic’s recipe by incorporating turnip greens and radish tops into the soup, and by increasing the liquid in the recipe accordingly.  And since I had just one half-pound bulb of fennel on hand, that’s all we used. (I couldn’t taste it a bit in the final dish.) I happened to have radish tops and turnip greens in my fridge today, but any cruciferous dark green would work well here.  However, I would avoid would be mustard greens; their spiciness would probably overpower the delicate balance of flavors in this soup.

All weekend I’ve been imagining what kinds of food Ella will enjoy as she gets older.  Maybe she will grow up to be the next Michael Pollan. Or a great chef. Whatever happens, I hope that some day I can make her a big steamy bowl of this fennel soup and tell her all about the Thursday night that she was born!

Fennel Potato Soup with Turnip Greens (4 large servings)
adapted from the Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 fennel bulb, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
2 large russet potatoes, peeled and chopped
4 cups chopped dark greens, such as turnip, arugula, radish, spinach, or kale
4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
Fresh ground pepper
Sour cream for garnish
Fennel fronds for garnish

Chop the onion and fennel bulb*. Heat olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add chopped onion and fennel. Saute until the onion is translucent and the fennel begins to soften, about 5 minutes.  Meanwhile, peel and chop potatoes and wash and chop greens.  Add potatoes and greens to the pot, along with the broth and milk.  Bring the soup to a boil.  Reduce heat, cover, and simmer until the potatoes are very tender, about 20 minutes.

Using an immersion blender, puree the soup until smooth. Taste and season accordingly. Ladle into bowls, garnish with fennel fronds, sour cream, and additional pepper.

*If you’re new to fennel (anise), like me, it can be tricky to know how to cut the bulb open. Here’s a great video with instructions:

Click here for a printable copy of this recipe.

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