Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Fennel, Leek and Potato Soup Even Your Kids Will Love

I try to expose my children to new foods, flavors, and scents as much as possible.  So on Sunday, I introduced them to fennel with this lovely soup. Since I wasn't sure whether they would like it, I had leftover turkey meatloaf as a backup. 

When I started cutting the fennel bulb, I had my children smell the licorice aroma.  They both looked at me like I was crazy, they had that mom's-going-to-have-us-eat-something-weird look, and reminded me how much they don't like licorice. They were a little worried about the end result.  I too was a little worried . . . licorice soup . . . kind of strange . . . not sure about this . . . .

Well, in the end, I didn't need to take out the leftover meatloaf. My kids loved it, especially with garlic-rubbed italian bread on the side.

* * *

I've cooked with leeks before, so I knew how to prepare them. But I needed a tutorial on fennel. Here's what I learned. I also included a link about trimming leeks:

To cut fennel, see:
And to cut leeks, see:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fm6XGDwjJQA.  Good idea. I wish I had watched this before.

Makes about 7, 1 cup servings
1 tablespoon butter
2  cups chopped fennel bulb (about 2 small bulbs)
2  cups thinly sliced leek (about 2 large)
1 3/4 cups (1-inch) cubed peeled baking potato
1 1/4  cups water
1/2  teaspoon salt
1/4  teaspoon fennel seeds
1/8  teaspoon black pepper
2 (14 1/2-ounce) cans fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
Fennel fronds (optional)

  • My method: Melt butter in a Dutch oven or stock pot over medium-high heat. Add fennel and leek, sauté 4 minutes or until soft. Add potato, water, salt, fennel seeds, pepper, and broth, and bring up to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer with a cover for 20 minutes or until potato is fork tender. Place half of the soup in a blender and process until smooth. Pour pureed soup into a bowl and repeat procedure with remaining soup. Return pureed soup to pan and simmer 5 minutes or until slightly thickened. Use fennel fronds as garnish if you'd like.

  • To print recipe, go to http://find.myrecipes.com/recipes/recipefinder.dyn?action=displayRecipe&recipe_id=10000000521640

I felt the soup needed a little more flavor so I added about 1/8 teaspoon of fresh nutmeg.  

I used 2 cups of potatoes instead of 1 3/4. 

And instead of pouring the soup into a blender to puree, I used an immersion blender. It took a little extra muscle to get a smooth finish but worth it. 

The soup went from this:

To this:

The Fronds!
Right after filling our bowls I remembered the fronds. Oh, the fronds! The fronds! Wait!  Need to add the fronds!  Well, standing there with a bunch of fronds in my hands, I couldn't remember if they were optional or how to use them. Too late, we wanted to eat, I placed a pinch of fronds in my bowl for a garnish. 

* * *

I placed the leftover soup into individual glass serving containers so the kids can easily reheat in the microwave when they get home from school:

After reading more about cooking with fennel I learned its flavor becomes mild when cooked, so that's why it didn't have a strong licorice taste.

Nutritional facts:

Fennel is a good source of vitamin C, folate, potassium, antioxidants and is anti-inflammatory 

Leeks are a good source of potassium, B6, iron, folate and manganese, which is good for digestion and normal bone growth


  1. Mon Dieu the fronds. I'm sure the soup is marvelous with or without them. And nutmeg... nice touch - never would have thought to add that spice. Very creative you are. Enjoy!

  2. Thanks Jayne! I got the idea to use nutmeg because this recipe is a take on Vichyssoise. When I looked up Vichyssoise, I saw that it typically has nutmeg. Voila!