Fennel, Leek & Parmesan Cheese Soup

We returned to Umbria, Italy a couple of weeks ago and found the weather here to be very cool and rainy at the time. We live in a stone farmhouse while we are in Italy for six months every year, and having sat unheated throughout the winter the house was quite cool and damp inside. When I am feeling cold, nothing is more satisfying to me than a big bowl of steaming hot soup, so I have been busy making a number of different types of soups the past couple of weeks to warm us up.

This soup is one of the lighter soups I made recently, as it is vegetarian, and made with just a few types of vegetables. The flavor is delicate, yet delicious, and the soup is very satisfying served at lunch with a slice of crusty multigrain bread, or as a first course at dinner. You can play around with the ingredients as you wish in this soup. You may want to add a can of chickpeas or cannellini beans to make the soup heartier, or add in some sliced zucchini or summer squash. I garnished my soup with some pistachio and parsley pesto I had on hand in the refrigerator, but regular basil pesto, either homemade or store bought would work well also.

  • Beans are an inexpensive fat-free source of protein that are rich in folate, B vitamins, and iron.
  • Tomatoes are rich in Lycopene, vitamin C, potassium, iron, and fiber.
  • Leeks contain Potassium, fiber, and folate as well as the flavonoid quercetin which helps support cardiovascular health, prevent several types of cancer, and help to control diabetes and inflammatory diseases.
  • Fennel contains a number of unique phytonutrients shown to reduce inflammation and to help prevent the occurrence of cancer. It is also rich in vitamin C, fiber, folate, and potassium.
  • Garlic is thought to help prevent cardiac disease, lower blood pressure, and reduce cholesterol levels.

 

Fennel, Leek & Parmesan Cheese Soup

Yield: Serves 4

Prep Time: 10 mins

Cook Time: 45 mins

Ingredients:

2 Tablespoons Extra-virgin Olive Oil
3 Garlic Cloves, Minced
3 Carrots, Peeled, & Thinly Sliced
3 Celery Stalks, Thinly Sliced
3 Leeks, White Parts Only, Halved Lengthwise & Thinly Sliced
2 Medium Sized Fennel Bulbs, Cut In Half, Cored, & Thinly Sliced
1 (14 Ounce) Can Chopped Tomatoes
6 Cups Vegetable or Chicken Broth
1 Teaspoon Fresh Thyme, Chopped
1 Teaspoon Dried Oregano
1/3 Cup Chopped Fresh Parsley Leaves
1 Parmesan Rind
Salt & Pepper
Pinch of Dried Pepper Flakes
To Serve:
Grated Parmesan Cheese
Pesto of Choice
Freshly Cracked Black Pepper

Directions:

In a large stockpot, heat the oil over medium heat, then add the garlic and cook a minute or two until fragrant.
Add the carrots, celery, leeks, and fennel, and cook, stirring often until the vegetables just begin to soften, about 5 minutes.
Add the tomatoes, broth, thyme, oregano, parsley, and Parmesan cheese rind and bring to a boil.
Reduce the heat to a simmer, and cook for 30 minutes.
Season with salt and pepper and red pepper flakes.
Discard the rind, and serve in individual bowls topped with a drizzle of pesto and grated Parmesan cheese.