A creamy, yet healthy, soup. Roasted fennel has a delicate fragrance and the crumbled Stilton cheese garnish provides a nice balance.
1 large bulb fennel, cut into quarters
2 tbsp. canola oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 leek, white part only, sliced
1 cup russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 cups chicken stock
2 tbsp. dry sherry
1⁄2 cup half-and-half
1⁄2 cup toasted California walnuts, coarsely chopped
1⁄4 cup Stilton cheese, crumbled
1 lemon, zest only, minced
1 tbsp. minced fresh chives
- Preheat oven to 400°F. Toss fennel with 1 tbsp. oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast fennel on baking pan until tender and golden brown, about 15-20 min.
- While fennel is roasting, heat remaining oil in a heavy, med.-sized saucepan over med.-low heat. Add leeks, stirring to coat with oil. Cover pot and cook leeks for 5 min., until translucent. Add potatoes and stock. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until potatoes are fully cooked, about 20 min. Puree mixture with a hand-held blender or in food processor until smooth.
- Allow fennel to cool. When easy to handle, slice fennel into small, 1⁄2-in. strips. Add to potato mixture, along with dry sherry and the half-and-half to reach the desired texture of the soup. Return to a simmer; stir in walnut pieces. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Toss Stilton cheese with lemon zest. To serve, ladle soup into bowls. Top with tbsp. of Stilton mixture. Sprinkle with minced chives and extra walnuts if desired.