The leeks popping up in grocery cases recently suggest the shift from winter to spring. Premature if you ask me. They also sparked memories of my family huddling around the kitchen table with steaming bowls of potato leek soup. However, I just wasn’t in the mood for a comfort recipe. Besides, as seems to be the side theme in my life right now, I was on a quest to use up more leftovers. And this time the leftovers consisted of a glut of fennel (yes, I suppose there are worse things in life). My mom’s recipe always called for ground anise seed, which has a flavor profile similar to fennel, so I figured, why not?
Fennel Leak Soup with Scallions and Ricotta
(Adapted from Deborah Madison’s Leek & Scallion Soup with Potato Gnocchi)
For the soup:
1 tablespoon olive oil
4-5 cups leeks, halved and chopped (white & green parts; about 3 large leeks)
1 celery stalk, small dice
1 medium russet potato, small dice
1/2 cup fennel stalks, sliced (from 1 fennel – these are the stalks from above the bulb, but not the fronds)
4 cups water
fresh ground pepper
For the garnish:
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 cup scallions, finely chopped (white and green parts; about 1 bunch)
1/2 cup fennel fronds, chopped
6 tablespoons ricotta cheese (whole or reduced-fat, your choice)
1. Sauté leeks, potato, celery, and fennel stalks in olive oil in a medium saucepan until the leeks are soft.
2. Add water and bring the soup to a boil. Lower heat. Cover and simmer about 20 minutes, until vegetables are cooked through and tender (especially potatoes).
3. Purée about 1 cup soup (or run a submersible blender through about 1/4 the soup). Check the consistency – if it is not smooth and creamy enough for your liking, purée more.
4. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
5. In a small sauté pan, sauté scallions and fennel fronds lightly in butter. The green of the scallions will intensify and they will wilt but don’t let them go too long or they will brown and turn bitter.
6. Pour soup into bowls. Top each with a tablespoon of ricotta and 1/6 of the scallion mixture. Enjoy!
*I leave the skin on the potato, as this is where the nutrients are. I also enjoy chunky soups. If you prefer a smoother texture, peel the potato before dicing it and purée more of it.
*Season the soup after you have puréed it to be sure you do not add too much salt. Remember that the ricotta cheese will also add some saltiness to the soup.