2000s Recipes + Menus

Fennel Soup with Orange Crème Fraîche and Croutons

Serves 4 to 6 (first course or light main)
  • Active time:30 min
  • Start to finish:50 min
March 2008
With an earthy flavor punctuated by hints of orange and a smooth, velvety texture, this soup is perfect as a simple weeknight supper or as a starter for an elegant party.
  • 1 small leek (white and pale green part only), halved and thinly sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fennel seeds
  • 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 medium russet (baking) potato
  • 2 medium fennel bulbs, stalks discarded, reserving fronds, and bulb cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 5 cups water
  • 1 (8-inch) length of baguette, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1/2 cup crème fraîche or sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon grated orange zest
  • Preheat oven to 375°F with rack in middle.
  • Wash leek, then cook with garlic, fennel seeds, and 1 teaspoon salt in 3 tablespoons oil in a heavy medium pot over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 8 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, peel potato and cut into 1/2-inch pieces.
  • Add potato, fennel, and water to leek mixture and simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are very tender, 15 to 20 minutes.
  • Toss bread cubes with remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a shallow baking pan. Bake, stirring once or twice, until crisp and golden brown, 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Purée soup in batches in a blender until smooth (use caution when blending hot liquids). Return to pot and season with salt and pepper.
  • Chop 1 tablespoon fennel fronds and whisk together with crème fraîche and zest.
  • Serve soup with orange crème fraîche and croutons.
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