Whether you’re looking for a delicious starter to a larger meal or a guilt-free vegan lunch, this creamy Fennel and Leek Soup with Mushrooms needs to be on your shortlist of picks.
The whole pot of soup is ready in under an hour and makes a delicious, light first course for your next dinner party or a week’s worth of lunches at the office.
To make the soup, I actually start with the garnish… mushrooms. I used wild mushrooms, oyster and shiitake — because, they’re meaty with great texture. If you don’t have specialty ‘shrooms in the fridge, feel free to use button, crimini, or whatever you have on hand. Saute them with some olive oil and thyme, then transfer to a bowl.
Prep the vegetables — leeks are notorious for having grit and sand tucked between their layers and the only effective way to clean it out is to chop the leeks and then submerge them in a bowl of water, separating the layers and agitating the rounds with your fingers.
Do this for a few minutes to ensure that the dirt is released. The detritus will sink to the bottom of the bowl — so don’t just tip the bowl to drain the water — because the grit will wind up right back where it started — in the veg. Instead, lift the floating leeks out of the bowl with your hands or a spider and transfer to a salad spinner to dry.
Saute the vegetables until softened and slightly translucent, then add more herbs and vegetable stock.
Simmer for 15 to 20 minutes in a covered stock pot. Before transferring the soup to the blender, be sure to fish out the stems from the thyme — they’re hard and woody and don’t belong in your silky smooth puree.
Blend the soup in batches — and be careful not to overfill the blender. Each batch should only fill the blender by about halfway. Remember, it’s a HOT SOUP — you don’t want the contents ending up all over you and your kitchen.
Ladle the creamy bisque into bowls and garnish with a few hearty mushrooms andreserved fennel fronds — for the pretty-factor.
- 3 tablespoons olive oil divided
- 1/2 pound mixed wild mushrooms I used shiitake, oyster and crimini
- 6 leeks white and pale green parts only
- 2 fennel bulbs chopped into a large dice. (RESERVE A FEW FENNEL FRONDS)
- 1 small bunch thyme tied with kitchen string
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 5-6 cups low-sodium vegetable or chicken broth
In a large dutch oven heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. Add thyme and mushrooms and sauté until the mushrooms get tender and brown. Remove from heat. Transfer mushrooms to a small bowl. Reserve thyme.
Fill a large bowl with water. Slice the leeks lengthwise, then chop them cross wise into half inch pieces. Transfer the leeks to the bowl of water. Using your hands, agitate the vegetables in the water to dislodge any trapped grit and dirt. With your hands, working in batches, scoop the leeks to a salad spinner and spin dry.
Add 2 more tablespoons olive oil to the dutch oven and heat over medium heat. Add leeks, fennel, reserved thyme and salt stir to combine. Cover and simmer for about 8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are tender and translucent. Add vegetable broth, bring to a simmer, cover and cook for 20 minutes. Remove from heat. Remove thyme stems (most of the leaves should have come off during this simmer and you're really just removing the stems).
Working in batches transfer leek mixture to blender and puree until smooth.
Warm soup over medium heat.
Before adding mushrooms, make sure they have drained all their liquid -- you may have to use some paper towel too pat them dry. (This is so the mushroom juice doesn't discolor the soup).
Ladle soup into bowls, garnish with mushrooms and fennel fronds.
When pureeing hot liquid, only fill the container about half full. Put the lid on the container tightly, then cover with a dish towel to prevent splatters and/or burns.
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