Fennel was highly important in ancient Roman and Greek cultures, where it was utilised both as a food source as well as medicine... and even employed to scare away insects! In Europe, fennel was one of the key ingredients in the creation of absinthe, which became an increasingly popular alcoholic beverage. Leeks also featured in ancient Roman cuisine, where they were regarded as a higher-ranking allium to even garlic and onion!! According to historians, Emperor Nero favoured leeks raw in soups and oil as he strongly believed it preserved and perhaps improved the quality of his voice. Since the technology at the time did not extend to voice recording, we cannot know whether his sultry tones were superior to other humans... so his technique may or may not have worked!
It's that time again when our early winter crops are ready for harvesting: leeks are back on the menu and oh have we missed them! Their mild, onion-like taste pairs so well with the creaminess of the potatoes in this hearty soup, and the fennel, with it's sweet aniseed flavour adds that pop you didn't know was missing! This leek, fennel and potato soup is a robust meal when topped with a slice or two of gruyere and teamed up with a delicious crusty sourdough from Bellbird bakery. Mmmmmm!!
This soup can be made up to 3 days ahead, and is a fantastic meal to pop in the freezer for one of those inevitable days when you simply cannot be bothered cooking!
3 tbsp of olive oil or butter
2 large leeks thinly sliced
1 fennel bulb sliced
3 potatoes peeled and chopped finely
4 cups of vegetable stock
1 tsp salt
cracked pepper to taste
1 tsp fresh thyme and/or oregano
2 thin slices of gruyere per serve
micro greens to garnish
The How To:
Heat oil or butter in a large pot and cook down leeks and fennel on a low heat until soft but do not brown. This should take about 10 -15 mins
Add potatoes, stock, salt, pepper and bring to a boil for 50mins.
Add thyme and/or oregano.
Mash with a potato masher or whizz with a blender stick or food processor until smooth and creamy.
Adjust seasoning as desired.
Serve piping hot and tope with cheese slices and sprinkle with micro greens.
Team up with crusty bread, wipe the saliva from your chin and enjoy!