If you've never cooked with fennel, try it! Its flavour really is unique. This is a deliciously flavoursome soup blending herbs and spices with fennel and leeks. Fennel has long been a central ingredient in many Asian (it’s a main component in the Chinese five spice powder), Middle Eastern and European dishes. In the Middle Ages, its popularity spread northward from the Mediterranean area, where it still features in many pasta dishes. This soup is suitable both for day-to-day meals and for dinner parties. To keep it strictly vegetarian, make it with a vegetable stock. For the best results, use a really good stock, preferably home-made. This soup is best made in a large, deep (preferably non-stick) sauté pan with a lid. Next time I make it, I’m going to substitute a cup of wine for one of the cups of stock, adding it during the 15 minutes while the soup is simmering.