This soup is comfort in a bowl. I love serving it with chunks of buttered rustic bread as an easy supper. Thick, creamy, and fragrant — with the deliciously salty crunch of bacon — this unusual leek, potato, and fennel soup is equally at home at an everyday dinner or an elegant dinner party.
We had an unusually huge harvest of leeks this year, along with a whole bunch of potatoes, and I was scrambling to make sure everything got used up. Large batches of soup work well, as they are perfect for a quick, easy dinner after a long work day.
I added fennel to give this classic leek and potato soup a little twist. It adds a sweet anise flavor that really lifts the soup and makes it different. I add bacon to give an extra level of complexity. All the sweet, salty textures work perfectly with each other.
Leek, Potato, and Fennel Soup with Bacon
extra-virgin olive oil
leeks, tender white parts with a little green only, thinly sliced
fennel bulb, cored and thinly sliced
large potatoes, scrubbed, peeled, and chopped into small dice
chicken or vegetable stock
Salt to taste
heavy cream (optional)
(4 strips) extra-thick bacon
Fresh chives, snipped, to garnish
Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. Add the sliced leeks, fennel, and garlic along with a generous pinch of salt. Cook without browning — just until the vegetables soften.
Turn the heat up to medium-high, add the potatoes, and stir. Add the stock, and bring it up to a boil. Turn down the heat again, and let the soup simmer for about 30 minutes, until the vegetables are all very soft.
Let the soup cool until no longer steaming, and then blend the soup using a hand or stand blender until it has a smooth, velvety consistency. Season generously with salt and pepper, and stir in the heavy cream (if using).
Cook the bacon in a wide skillet until crisp. Gently reheat the soup, without letting it boil. Ladle the soup into bowls, and crumble bacon and sprinkle over chives, to serve.
This recipe can be very easily adapted to be vegetarian or vegan. For vegetarian soup, use vegetable stock and skip the bacon. For vegan, use vegetable stock and skip the bacon and cream.
You can also cook the bacon first and then substitute bacon fat for the olive oil when cooking the vegetables.
I love using cream, as it adds a delicious velvety texture to the soup. You can skip the cream if you're watching the calories, or stir in a couple tablespoons of crème fraîche or Greek yogurt.
This soup can be frozen. If freezing, don't add any cream to it. Defrost, reheat, and then add cream, after which you can readjust the seasoning to your taste.
Originally posted October 2014.