Make Ahead

Thyme-Scented Fennel and Leek Soup

March 28, 2013
5 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Serves 4 as a light first course
Author Notes

A luscious spring soup, you say, that's dairy-free, vegan, and can be enjoyed by people with nut allergies? How on earth do you do it? Pepitas, my friends. By lightly toasting and then blitzing the living daylights out of them, you can create a light but creamy soup with subtle nutty undertones, which everyone can eat. It's also outstanding served chilled, by the way. Enjoy!! ;o) —AntoniaJames

What You'll Need
  • The Soup
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 medium leeks (white parts only), thinly sliced and thoroughly rinsed
  • 1 stalk celery, sliced
  • 3 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves divided (2 for the soup, 1 for the croutons)
  • 2 bulbs of fennel (coarsely chopped), stalks and fronds reserved for the stock
  • 5 cups stock (Use the recipe below for the best result.)
  • 1/2 cup raw pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
  • Salt
  • Large handful of small fresh bread cubes (about a cup or more)
  • More olive oil (about a tablespoon) for making the croutons
  • 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds, freshly ground (measure before grinding)
  • The Stock
  • Green tops of the 2 medium leeks you're putting in the soup, thoroughly cleaned and coarsely chopped
  • Stalks and fronds of the 2 fennel bulbs you're putting in the soup, coarsely chopped
  • 1 celery stalk
  • Small handful of fennel seeds (about 3 tablespoons)
  • Small handful of parsley sprigs. If all you have are stems, that's fine.
  1. MAKE THE STOCK: In a stock pot, put 6 cups of cold water on to boil, covered. Meanwhile, thoroughly clean and coarsely chop the leek tops. Clean and coarsely chop the fennel tops and fronds. Scrub and cut the celery stalk into 2-inch pieces. Coarsely chop the parsley.
  2. Add everything you just cut, along with the crushed fennel seeds, to the stock pot. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat down. Let the stock bubble lazily for at least 30 minutes. 45 is even better. Strain and measure the stock. Add water if necessary to make five cups.
  3. MAKE THE SOUP: In a large, heavy soup pot, warm the olive oil and then add the sliced leeks. Coat with the oil, cover the pot, and sweat for about three minutes over medium low heat, stirring after a minute or so.
  4. Add the fennel, celery, and 2 teaspoons of fresh thyme leaves, along with the stock and a good pinch of salt. Bring to a slow boil, then turn down the heat so the soup is simmering. Let it continue to simmer with the lid on for about 20 minutes.
  5. Heat your oven to 400 degrees, for toasting your croutons. Or use a toaster oven. I don't have a toaster oven, so I do this while baking or roasting something else.
  6. Meanwhile, toast the pepitas in a hot dry skillet on the stove over medium heat for about a minute, shaking the skillet frequently, lest the pepitas burn. Immediately remove them from the skillet and put them into a blender. (Use a conventional blender for this and not a stick blender. It needs to run for a good long while. Plus, the bigger blender is better suited for blending the fibrous vegetables in this soup.)
  7. MAKE THE CROUTONS: Toss the bread cubes with a good sprinkling of olive oil; then sprinkle on a hefty pinch of salt, the remaining teaspoon of thyme leaves and the ground fennel seeds. Bake on a cookie sheet for about 5-7 minutes, or until toasted and fragrant.
  8. FINISH MAKING THE SOUP: Use a ladle or cup measure with a handle to remove about 1/2 cup of broth from the soup. Put it in the blender with toasted pumpkin seeds. Hold the lid down using a tea towel. Blend at high speed for about 3 minutes, scraping down after the first minute and then again after the second minute.
  9. Add the rest of the contents of the soup pot to the blender. Cover the top of the lid with a tea towel and blend at high speed for two minutes. Scrape down the sides, blend for another two minutes, and then blend for another minute. Test for salt and correct.
  10. If serving this for a formal dinner, strain the soup through a fine sieve and warm again gently before plating.
  11. Garnish with the croutons.
  12. Enjoy! ;o)

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • shoshana berger
    shoshana berger
  • krystine
  • Judy Hettena Wright
    Judy Hettena Wright
  • savorthis
  • kdmcooks

Recipe by: AntoniaJames

See problem, solve problem. Ask questions; question answers. Disrupt, with kindness, courtesy and respect. ;o)

16 Reviews

mlgiles February 26, 2024
This is a beautiful delicate soup! Fennel is wonderful and largely underrated. I followed the recipe exactly and we loved it! Happened to have a recently backed loaf of Seeded Sourdough (recipe by @Maurizio Leo @The Perfect Loaf) which is subtlety flavored with fennel seed.😋 The croutons made from this bread alongside a slice or two as delicious accompaniment made a wonderful dinner! Great recipe - thank you!
Mark January 21, 2024
One of the best soups! Double the recipe if you have a family of 4 and want leftovers. It is worth the work to make this soup.
AntoniaJames January 22, 2024
Mark, thank you. I'm so glad you like this! ;o)
shoshana B. November 12, 2018
So rich and fortifying on a cold autumn evening! I added 4 chopped potatoes and added to the sauté to thicken it up once blended and put a tub of greek yogurt on the table for a creamy garnish.
Gallypop February 15, 2015
this is absolutely delicious. next time will try adding roasted garlic to the mix. and have to agree the croutons are amazing. had to keep my boyfriend from eating them all before we got to the soup. Thank you!
krystine January 9, 2015
Damn girl, this is some gooooood soup! :)
lizabeth May 7, 2014
Hi Antonia - and thank you for this delicate, creamy soup. I am a "beginner vegan" and it is sometimes difficult to find delicious recipes to make use of my CSA box ingredients. What a wonderful way to use fennel! You have also made me a fan of making my own croutons!
AntoniaJames May 7, 2014
Thanks, lizabeth! This is one of my family's favorite soups. Here's another vegan soup you might like:
I eat 18 vegan-style (plant food only) meals per week for health and policy/impact reasons, so I've been developing and adapting many of my favorite recipes to make them vegan. When I have time within the next month or so, I plan to edit the recipes I've posted to show how to adapt them, and to tag as vegan for search purposes. Stay tuned . . . . ;o)
Ellen January 9, 2014
I made this exactly as described last night, and it was lovely. I added some leftover farro to my bowl today for lunch, but I should have made extra croutons - they made the soup!
AntoniaJames January 9, 2014
Thank you, Ellen! I'm so glad you liked it. You're right about the croutons. I'm regularly making them these days with the end pieces of the artisanal breads that I bake. We had some on a simple potato leek soup the other night; the few that were left I put on my salad last night. So easy to make -- a great return on such a small investment of time and energy. ;o)
Judy H. July 20, 2013
No mention of Fennel Bulbs in ingredients, and what are you supposed to do with the Fennel bulbs? Chop them? Slice them?
AntoniaJames August 7, 2013
Thanks, Judy. I corrected it. (Two fennel bulbs, coarsely chopped.) ;o)
savorthis June 27, 2013
This looks so wonderful. I use fennel a lot in soups because I am allergic to celery (!) so I'd have to omit that, but I love the use of pepitas and croutons. Yum.
kdmcooks April 16, 2013
Fennel, not thyme... P
kdmcooks April 15, 2013
Fennel is not listed in the ingredients, but mentioned in the stock instructions...
AntoniaJames April 15, 2013
In the ingredients for "Soup", the recipe calls for three teaspoons of fresh thyme leaves. They are mentioned again in Step 4. I don't use thyme in the stock, but you could, if you so desired. ;o)