Soup? But it’s April. It’s sunny and warm and the flowers are blooming! True, true, and hooray for that. Yesterday was a beautiful day, though there was a definite chill to the air once the clouds got in the way of the sun… So let’s think of this as a bridge soup, pepped up with some bright spring flavors but still warm and comforting, etc. In this case, the peppy flavor is dill; I actually created this because I wanted to eat dill, lots of it, and couldn’t find a recipe I was entirely satisfied with. Look at me go.
I crave dill more than most people, I think, and I give the credit/blame to my Nana and aunt, who fed me delicious Swedish and Finnish foods full of the bright, grassy herb. When I was with them in the summer, we ate gurka (a fresh cucumber salad with vinegar and heaps of fresh dill) with lunch and dinner almost every day. I couldn’t get enough. My Mom always put dill in potato salad, which I love, and I grow some on the balcony every year for my pickles, mmm, is it August yet? So, when I was thinking about dinner, I planned the entire meal around the gigantic bunch of dill I picked up last weekend, and this is what I came up with.
The soup is potato-based, which I guess you probably know by now, with smoked paprika for depth and lots of dill for the freshness I usually achieve with lemon juice when I make similar soups. Paprika works very well with both dill and potatoes, though I used smoked paprika, more traditionally associated with Spanish cuisine, with an earthy smokiness and just a hint of heat. The kind I use is not a spicy one, though, and I am learning that the paprika I grew up with (usually sprinkled on deviled eggs) is just the tip of the paprika iceberg– there are dozens of varieties. (“Explore paprika” is now a note tacked on my fridge.) Back to the soup: it was delicious warm last night and equally good cold for lunch today, in the style of a vichyssoise. Warm, the paprika is a prominent flavor, but the dill really shone through today. Maybe it was because the flavors melded further with time, I don’t know, but it was really nice and I can’t wait to try it again. Next time I am going to go crazy and sub in some parsnips for part of the potato, even though it is April. I better stock up on dill!
Creamy Potato-Dill Soup
- 1 T. grapeseed (or canola) oil
- 1 large shallot, minced (about 1/4 c.)
- 2 ribs of celery, chopped
- 4 medium Yukon gold potatoes, new potatoes, or fingerlings (about 3 c.), cut into 1″ cubes
- 1 tsp. smoked paprika
- cracked black pepper
- 4 c. chicken stock
- 4 T. chopped fresh dill
- 1/2 – 1 tsp. salt
- 1/4 c. sour cream or plain yogurt
In a Dutch oven or stockpot, heat the oil over medium-high heat and add in the shallots and celery. Cook for a few minutes, 2-3, just to soften the vegetables slightly, and then add the potatoes to your pot and cook for a minute or two. Sprinkle the paprika and black pepper over the vegetables and toss them to coat with the spices; add the chicken stock and bring to a boil, then lower the heat to a simmer. Cover and cook for 30 mins., until the potatoes are very tender. Remove the pot from the heat and add 2 T. of the dill; use an immersion blender (or equivalent) to process the soup to your desired consistency. Be very careful: potatoes can turn to glue if you overwork them with an immersion blender, though this soup has enough of a stock-to-potato ratio that it shouldn’t be a problem. Season with salt to taste, add the sour cream or yogurt and the rest of the dill, and heat slowly, stirring constantly, until your soup is heated through. Serves 4-6.