Chef Kristine’s Cookbook

Potato, Leek and Fresh Fennel Soup with Tomato-Saffron Vinaigrette

Course Main Course, Soup
Cuisine Californian
Keyword Fennel, saffron


  • Soup:
  • ¼ cup butter
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 4 leeks large, trimmed of greenest parts
  • 3 bulbs fresh fennel large, leafy parts trimmed away
  • 1 qt. chicken stock or vegetable
  • 3 potatoes large, peeled and rinsed
  • 2 cups half and half
  • Salt to taste
  • Pepper freshly ground, to taste
  • Vinaigrette:
  • Zest juice, from one large orange
  • 1 tbsp. lime juice fresh
  • 1 tsp. saffron threads crushed
  • 1 cup tomato fresh, peeled, seeded and finely diced
  • 1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup fennel leaves fresh, chopped
  • ¼ cup chives fresh, finely sliced
  • Salt pepper, to taste


  • Slice the leeks in half lengthwise, then slice them thinly. Put the sliced leeks into a large bowl of water and stir them around a bit to release any grit. Place the leeks in to a strainer and shake off excess water. Melt the butter in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the salt and the leeks and stir to coat the leeks with the butter. Turn flame to low and cover the pot with its lid. Next, trim the fennel bulbs of any brown or fibrous areas and quarter them. Quickly slice them into thin slices and add them to the soup pot. Stir the leek mixture to coat the fennel with the butter and replace the lid. Allow the vegetables to “sweat” for a few minutes, or until they are softened but not brown. Add the chicken stock and increase the flame to high until the mixture boils. Reduce heat to a simmer and allow the vegetables to simmer until they are completely soft. Slice the potatoes into ¼-inch thick slices and add them to the soup mixture. Stir them around so they are covered with stock and then cover the pot with its lid. Simmer the potatoes until they begin to fall apart, about 15 minutes.
  • Use a blender to puree the soup in batches. Once all the soup is pureed, pour it back into the soup pot and add the half and half. This soup should be fairly thick, but if it seems too thick add some more stock, water, or milk to thin it a bit. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve soup in warm soup bowls with a large spoonful of Tomato-Saffron Vinaigrette on top. Makes 10-12 servings.
  • Tomato-Saffron Vinaigrette
  • Pour the orange juice, orange zest and lime juice into a medium mixing bowl and stir in the crushed saffron threads. Allow the saffron to soak in the citrus juices for a few minutes while the remaining vinaigrette ingredients are prepared. Next, add the diced tomato, olive oil, fresh fennel leaves and chives to the bowl and stir to blend evenly. Add salt and pepper to taste. Set vinaigrette aside for 30 minutes or so, while soup is prepared, so the flavors have a chance to develop. Makes approximately 1 ½ cups vinaigrette.