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.
- 30 g unsalted butter
- 2 large fennel bulbs, thinly sliced
- 3 leeks, thoroughly washed, 2 thinly sliced, and 1 cut in half lengthways, and then cut into 4cm strips (for garnish)
- 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 4 cups chicken stock or 4 cups vegetable stock
- 2 rosemary sprigs
- 1⁄3 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1⁄8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1⁄3 cup sour cream, low fat is fine
- 1⁄4 cup parmesan cheese, freshly grated
- salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 cup sour cream, low fat is fine, to garnish
- 1⁄2 cup parmesan cheese, freshly grated, to garnish
- Heat the butter in a large, deep (preferably non-stick) sauté pan, over a medium heat, add the sliced fennel (NOT the strips of fennel), sliced leek and finely chopped garlic, and sauté, while stirring occasionally, for 3-4 minutes or until the fennel, leeks and garlic are beginning to soften.
- Remove from the heat, and set aside.
- In a large pot, heat the stock, add the rosemary sprigs, thyme and nutmeg and bring to the boil.
- Simmer over a low heat for about 15 minutes.
- Remove the rosemary sprigs.
- Add the fennel, leek and garlic mixture to the pot, and stir to combine all the ingredients.
- Set the pan in which the fennel, leek and garlic were sautéed aside, for re-use later.
- Allow the soup to cool slightly (10 minutes cooling time should be ample), then blend it in batches in a blender or food processor until smooth.
- As each batch is blended, pour the blended soup into another pot or pan, perhaps the deep pan used earlier to sauté the fennel, leeks and garlic.
- Once all of the soup has been blended, stir it to ensure that it is of an even consistency (inevitably some batches were probably thinner than others).
- Stir the sour cream and the 1/4 cup of parmesan into the soup.
- Reheat the soup over a medium heat until it is hot, but do not allow it to come to the boil.
- Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
- Turn off the heat and leave the soup covered so that it stays warm.
- In a small non-stick pan, heat the oil, and sauté the extra leek for 2-3 minutes, or until softened but not browned.
- Ladle the soup into warm soup bowls and top with the sautéed leek.
- Garnish with the extra parmesan and sour cream, and serve immediately with warm crusty rolls.
- Chef's Note: Since posting this recipe, and since last making this soup, I have found and posted a fabulous recipe for vegetable, quite unlike others I have used in the past: Vegetable Stock Recipe #135453.
This is an excellent soup. I like that it does not have potatoes. I made it the first time with just butter, the leeks and fennel and herbs. I didn't have sour cream or Parmesan. I was surprised at how silky it turned out without any cream. Now I just make it the same way because everyone loved it! Thanks for sharing. Oh, the 4 stars is because I just throw all ingredients in the pot until the veggies are soft, then add the broth and simmer instead of using the more complex set of steps.
I made this last night and it was great, I added red pepper flakes and garlic to the leeks and fennel to give a little kick. Didn't use the extra sour cream for garnish and I used vegetable broth to try and bring down the calories! I made the 6 serving recipe and it served 2 for dinner. I'll be making thia again, great taste and easy to make. I also used an emersion blender.
We used an immersion blender instead of doing batches and it worked great. We also added some of the fennel fronds at the end, and no salt or pepper seemed necessary. Super tasty!