Leek, Potato & Fennel Soup
Fennel adds a fragrant note of licorice to this simple soup. I infused the cream with dried fennel seeds, pureed the fennel bulb into the broth, and garnished the soup with fennel fronds, so the delicate anise flavour runs through every bite. Purple potatoes are responsible for the wild colour. I can never resist purple potatoes, I pick some up when ever I see them at the market.
To make this soup, start by gathering your ingredients:
- 1 teaspoon fennel seeds, finely crushed
- 3/4 cup cream - use full-fat whipping cream for a richer soup, I used 10% milk fat blend
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 large fennel bulb, cored and chopped (about 2 1/2 cups)
- 2 leeks, thinly sliced (use only the white and light green part of the leeks)
- 1 small yellow onion, chopped
- 100-150 grams purple potatoes, peeled, diced (you can substitute Yukon Gold potatoes, if you like)
- 2 cups chicken stock
- 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
- Creme fraiche and fennel frond or fresh tarragon to garnish
In a small saucepan, over medium heat, lightly toast the crushed fennel seeds for about a minute, just until lightly fragrant. Add the cream to the pan, and heat until barely simmering. Remove from heat, and let the fennel seed infuse the cream while you prepare the vegetables.
Over medium heat, sautée the fennel, leeks, and onion for 3-4 minutes in a fairly large pot. Stir the mixture every now and then, until the vegetables begin to soften. Add the stock and the potatoes, and raise the heat to high until liquid comes to a boil. Once it reaches a boil, lower heat to medium, and add the lemon juice. Cover the pot, and let simmer until the vegetables are very soft, about 20 minutes.
Remove from the heat and add the cream mixture. Using an immersion blender, purée the mixture until smooth. You may need to add a little extra liquid if the soup is too thick. You can use stock or cream, whichever you have on hand.
To serve, garnish with a small dollop of creme fraiche and a sprig of fennel frond or a couple of leaves of fresh tarragon.