Cooking with Fennel - Leek and Fennel Soup with smoked Cod

I'm not sure if I should confess this thing. However, I want to be honest with you. I've never cooked with fennel yet! Until now. Fennel is not really common in czech cuisine, and before moving to London, I had never even tasted this wonderful green friend. Yes. I fell in love. Fennel is my new favourite vegetable now. I bought about 10 fennel bulbs at a market last week and I started looking for recipes. I was really amazed by its versatile use. I've already tried three different dishes and they all were a huge success.

I was a little worried that P. wouldn't like fennel, but he took a liking to it same as I did. I didn't use it fresh though. I would say, using fresh fennel is a "second level" for us. So, next time. This time we had braised chicken with fennel, garlic and lemon, which was absolutely delicious. Then I made baked potatoes with fennel, pear and blue cheese inspired by the La Tartine Gourmande's recipe. And lastly, I tried a fennel soup because I so much love soups, especially in the winter. I can't decide which one of those three dishes was my favourite one. Actually, it must have been the soup. That's why I want to share it with you. I looked at several recipes but I didn't want to use potatoes or any alcohol for my soup. So I combined a few different recipes. I really liked the idea of a smoked cod in Bethany's recipe from the Dirty Kitchen Secrets.

Actually one more thing had happened which influenced my soup recipe. Rule number one: never leave a double cream opened and unsecured in your fridge! I'm sometimes very impetuous which usually leads to minor catastrophes. This time I opened my fridge to quickly. Oops! You can probably imagine the situation. Yes, the opened and unsecured double cream decided to leave the fridge too quickly too, leaving huge white tracks everywhere, for example on my cloths, in the fridge, on walls and on the floor. And I think I don't need to describe that double cream is not the easiest thing to clean up. This episode, however, had left me with only less than 50ml of double cream for my soup. Next time I might use a little bit more! :)

Leek and Fennel Soup
Serves 4

1 tbsp butter
2 small leeks, white and light green parts only, cleaned and chopped
1 shallot, chopped
3 large fennel bulbs, sliced
4 garlic cloves, halved
650ml chicken stock
50ml double cream
salt and freshly ground pepper
olive oil, to serve

2 smoked cod fillets
1 tsp olive oil
1/4 tsp dried tarragon

1. Melt the butter in a heavy based large saucepan. Add the leeks and shallot and saute for about 5 minutes.

2. Add the fennel and garlic and fry gently for another 2 or 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.

3. Add the chicken stock and stir well. Cover, bring to the boil and cook gently for about 20 minutes until the fennel is tender.

4. Turn off the heat. Using a stick blender puree the soup completely until it's very smooth. Stir in the cream and season with salt and pepper. Reheat gently if needed.

5. Meanwhile, place the fish onto a baking tray and toss with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and dried tarragon. Bake in a preheated oven at 150C for 15-20 minutes.

6. To serve, ladle the soup into plates or bowls. Divide the cod between the plates and drizzle over some olive oil.


  1. I'm sure I had fennel before but probably mixed with other spices. I like your soup with fish in it. :)

  2. Thank you Pam. The fish is what makes the soup so special. I love those tastes together :)

  3. i think we might have been friends had we met in real life, Sari. the double cream debacle: a normal thing in my home. things spilling everywhere bec of my impetuous nature! jokes aside, the photos are gorgeous and the combination of flavours is lovely. i do adore soup, but when i have it for dinner, i feel like i havent had a proper meal. with the addition of fish, it seems like a perfect, complete meal. i adore fennel. x

  4. This is beautifully photographed. I am new convert to fennel, I didn't like it for ages but it's grown on me now. I bet it's great with smoked fish.

  5. Hey Sarka! Don't want to repeat myself but not sure if I the comment went here we go take two! :) Just wanted to let you know that you CAN get quinoa flour in the UK. I bake with it ALL the time. I buy mine in Wholefoods in London. I tried to buy online too but the quality was poor. Love your pics and I'll be trying out this recipe. Oh I came over from a comment you left on tartine gourmande :)

  6. I do love fennel soup as well! Fennel as you said is so very versatile and a great veg. This looks fantastic and so honored that I could inspire you!

    Pictures are delectable! Yummy :)

  7. Lovely soup Sarka, and absolutely gorgeous, rustic food styling and photos - beautiful!

  8. I LOVE Fennel. Last week I made a soup and served it with gnocchi nero...then yesterday I made another pot with tilapia fillets. The rest of the soup we had as a sauce with potatoes and I'm thinking of using what's left in a pasta bake!!!!!!!! It is a great veggie!

  9. What beautiful presentation! I have to confess as well, I've only used fennel raw in salads but fennel soup sounds amazing. Thanks for the inspiration.

  10. this looks delicate and lovely in every way. I love the presentation of everything involved in this dish!

  11. I love fennel! Apparently it is one of those vegetables that you either love or hate and I am of the loving side..:) But what do you mean when you said that you didn't use fresh? You bought fresh fennel at the market right? Or am I totally missing the point here..:)

  12. I am also a late-adopter of fennel. Seeing as I do not like liquorice at all, I thought the aniseed flavour would not be my thing... but how wrong could I be?!? This sounds sublime with the salty smoked fish - definitely bookmarking!

  13. shayma - oh thank you my dear, I so much hope we will meet in real life one day! What about Food Blogger Connect '10 this year in London? I know it's not really close to your place but it is definitely worth travelling! ;)

    Sarah - actually the fish was delicious on its own :) but combining those two tastes together created a wonderful dish.

    thecuriousbaker - thank you so much for your tip I have to have a look in Wholefoods!

    Bethany - thank you Beth, you are my constant inspiration. Have to try some of your Lebanese recipes! How about chicken wings? :)

    Mowie - thank you hun. My favourite rustic kitchen table creates my rustic styling :)

    Kitchen Butterfly - hmm, I love how use used fennel. I should try it with pasta too!

    Trissa - using raw fennel in salads is what I plan for my next fennel experiments ;)

    oneshotbeyond - thank you for your nice comment!

    Junglefrog - I guess it's very true you either love it or hate it. Now I know I'm of loving side too :) Well I meant, I cooked fennel for all the dished I've eaten and I didn't use it raw in salad for example, where the aniseed flavour is very strong ;)

    Jeanne - that's exactly what I was worried about. P. doesn't like liquorice so I thought he would not like fennel.

  14. I discovered fennel this year and now I cannot stop buying it!

    Your soup sounds delicous. Thanks for sharing :)

  15. Fennel is an absolute must in my kitchen! I love it in most dishes although I understand how the anise flavour can be a bit "strong" for some. This looks delightful and very comforting for the winter months. The cod is a nice addition too.

  16. What a great recipe to try with fennel. I want to continue trying new dishes with fennel. It has such a great flavor. You did really well with the pictures.

  17. Nothing worse than spilt cream! At least it didn't make you cry ;) Beautiful dish - really enjoying reading your blog!

  18. What a unique combination! That is a gorgeous recipe. A pity we can't find smoked cod here...



  19. @Karine - I can only agree that fennel is a wonderful vegetable!

    @Peter - Thank you Peter. I'm so glad I've discovered fennel, and I will definitely byu it more often now.

    @ Helene - I liked the pasta fennel recipe on your blog. I'm gonna try more recipes too! ;)

    @Y - You made me smile now! :) Glad you like my blog!!

    @ Rosa - You can definitely try it with a different fish. Any smoke fish would work here.