Spicy Potato Tarragon Soup

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“We do not grow absolutely, chronologically. We grow sometimes in one dimension, and not in another; unevenly. We grow partially. We are relative. We are mature in one realm, childish in another. The past, present, and future mingle and pull us backward, forward, or fix us in the present. We are made up of layers, cells, constellations.”

—    Anais Nin

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Spicy Potato Tarragon Soup 

It’s still winter here in Colorado, although spring is introducing itself in fits and starts. I’m considering this my last homage to the hearty, sustaining bowls of warmth that have characterized this amazing season of snow and festivity. Savor the crumbs of cold that are left for us, folks. Everyone seems to want to be in the season that’s in front of them instead of celebrating the one that’s here, now. It will be time for tulips, asparagus, and rhubarb soon enough.

  • 6 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 2 leeks, sliced
  • 1 bulb fennel, sliced
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 8 small red potatoes
  • 1 fuji apple, sliced
  • 12 small yellow fingerlings
  • 6-8 cups vegetable or chicken stock
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • Juice of two large lemons
  • ———
  • 1/4 cup minced tarragon
  • Sriracha or other preferred hot sauce
  • Crisp cooked bacon (optional)


Melt butter in a 8-quart stockpot. Add onion, leek, garlic, and fennel; cook over medium heat for about 10 minutes until the vegetables are just softening. Add potatoes (skins on) and stir together to create some browning at the bottom of the pot and the potatoes. Deglaze the browning bits after 10 minutes by adding stock. Reduce to simmer for 45 minutes.

When the potatoes are completely softened and separating from their skin, add the heavy cream, salt, and pepper then transfer batches to the blender and blend on low so that the soup is just combined but still a bit chunky. Transfer to a staging bowl and repeat until all the soup is blended but still has texture.

Stir in lemon juice, fresh chopped tarragon, hot sauce to your liking, and add bacon (optional). Taste for salt and pepper.

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  1. katrina @ warm vanilla sugar

    This soup is gorgeous! I love the colour of it too :)


  2. Danielle

    Such a vital reminder to truly live in the season of life that we’re in.

    This soup (almost) makes me wish an early spring hadn’t come to Paris :).


  3. Allyson

    Potatoes with leeks and apples and beer? That is an inspired pairing. Perhaps I shouldn’t regret that spring hasn’t started yet.


  4. Sina

    Agreed! I’m grateful for rain as mush as for sunshine (says the girl living in LA). Lovely soup.


  5. Isadora

    I’ve never cooked with tarragon before, but I do love potato and leek soup! I’ll have to throw some in next time I make it! Your photos are beautiful! I live in Arizona, so I can’t imagine what snow feels like right now, but it is nice to see it!


  6. Eva @ 1 Big Bite

    Although we had our fair share of winter weather in Atlanta this year, I still have the feeling I am missing out. I definitive had not enough hearty soup and cozy afternoons with hot tea.


  7. Sini | my blue&white kitchen

    There’s so much truth in that quote, so much beauty in these pictures, and so much flavor & soul in this soup. Wonderful post.


  8. Anina@aninas-recipes

    Absolutely in love with your photos. It seems the perfect meal to have even here in Johannesburg, South Africa, the weather is dismal! Soup to the crowds I say!



  9. felicia | Dish by Dish

    Kelsey! This is the second time only that I’m commenting on your blog (too little for all that I read it!), but there are so many things in this post that make my heart stop, I have to scribble my thoughts.

    The phrase “Everyone seems to want to be in the season that’s in front of them instead of celebrating the one that’s here, now.” – so befitting, so wise. And that photo at the end, of you with the bowl of soup in the falling snow – it’s literally poetic – a contrast of so many extremes (warmth vs. cold; greyish white vs blushing red & movement vs. stillness).

    Thanks for writing, always. And thanks for always being an inspiration, in every single post.

    xoxo, F.


  10. Nik@A Brown Table

    Tarragon is probably one of my favorite herbs that I unfortunately rarely remember to use. I love this soup for its simplicity yet elegant flavors. That quote is so true, it is something I definitely needed to hear this week. As always lovely work!


  11. dixya

    tarragon, i have never used this herb..need to change that.


  12. Marissa

    Anais Nin is such a beautiful writer. I love reading her quotes. I just picked up a book by her the other day!

    Recipe looks amazing. Love potatoes so I hope to try this out soon.



  13. Jade

    Yum yum yummm! This beautiful soup looks so heart & belly-warming! The combination of flavors is just completely unexpected – I mean, fennel, fuji apple, and sriracha?! Ah, so exciting! And this quote…is beautiful, and feels so right and wise.


  14. Marissa

    Am currently making this!


  15. Teresa

    this looks so amazing and completely cozy. I’ve never used tarragon. do you think it can be substituted with any other herb?


  16. Grace

    That last shot! So good. We are made up of constellations = We are inhaling the universe.


  17. Skye

    Oh, what utterly stunning photos! And love the idea of adding tarragon to the soup!


  18. Kyle

    love those last two shots! looks delicious :)


  19. Sophie

    Not ready to see winter go yet (or winter recipes)! Thank you for this, looks just lovely, and delicious. This is such a highlight of my subscription feed!


  20. Nora

    This recipe sounds so lovely! I am new to your blog, do you have a print button for the recipes? I would love to be able to print out the recipes to have with me when I cook. I have a shared kitchen where I rent. Having my laptop in the kitchen doesn’t always work.

    Thank you!
    Nora :)


  21. erin

    Kelsey, I’m crazy for anything tarragon… sign me up!
    And I love your opening quote.. I know it rings true for grownups and our growth, and I cannot tell you how spot-on it is for kids. I watched both of my babies sit and eventually scoot around on their tushies while their peers ran circles around them. In the meantime, my kiddos were chatting up a storm. I’ve watched this sort of lopsided growth continue with a smile. Fascinating.


  22. Lisa @ Simple Pairings

    Looks scrumptious! I love potato soup, and especially ones with leek. Those two ingredients just go hand in hand. You have such lovely flavors here, especially the Irish Ale and apple! I look forward to trying this – but I have a feeling I already know that I will love this :)

    PS – love your top/sweater in these photos; looks absolutely cozy and comfy, yet oh so cute. If you told me where you got it, I would be so appreciative :)


  23. sarahk

    Beautiful, as always. And yes, I’ve been wishing for spring like nobody’s business; so thanks for the reminder to just enjoy today. I hope you are well and enjoying life! xo


  24. karin - trattoria

    Your pictures really make my day!


  25. Shelly @ Vegetarian 'Ventures

    Mmmm I haven’t had a delicious potato stew in ages and this sounds perfect! I can’t help but notice my mind is wondering to spring thoughts but my body is still stuck in winter with constant heavy and warm cravings (perhaps a sign that my mind needs to slow down?!).


  26. Becky

    This bowl just looks perfectly comforting!! I’m a sucker for tarragon – just discovered it a few summers ago! Hope you are doing well friend :)


  27. Cassie

    Do you add the apple with the potatoes ? I didn’t see where it comes in.


  28. Grain-free Blueberry Almond Muffins — Dish by Dish

    […] writing from her end of the world in Denver, Colorado, scribbled her thoughts on the transition of winter to spring. I was struck by the sincerity and warmth in her words, whose wisdom always leaves me thinking. […]

  29. Sarah

    oh YUM! Thank you so much for this recipe; my husband and I made it for dinner tonight and it is fantastic! I never would have thought to put hot sauce (we’re using a green, vinegary tomatillo-based one) on potato soup, but wow; it’s amazing!


  30. kenton @ Lemon & Olives

    Yes, I need to try this now! I’ve recently been experimenting with tarragon and looking for ideas. This seems like it would be so perfect. Thanks for sharing this – going to bookmark it!


  31. Brooke Evan

    My daughter is collecting the ingredients right now and we’re going to make this. We’re in autumn here so I’ve got all winter to get this soup dish looking like the one in the final photo. Thanks for this awesome post.


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