2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 leeks, tender white parts with a little green only, thinly sliced
1 fennel bulb, cored and thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 large potatoes, scrubbed, peeled, and chopped into small dice
3 cups chicken or vegetable stock
Salt to taste
1/2 cup heavy cream (optional)
1/4 pound (4 strips) extra-thick bacon
Fresh chives, snipped, to garnish
Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. Add the sliced leeks, fennel, and garlic along with a generous pinch of salt. Cook without browning — just until the vegetables soften.
Turn the heat up to medium-high, add the potatoes, and stir. Add the stock, and bring it up to a boil. Turn down the heat again, and let the soup simmer for about 30 minutes, until the vegetables are all very soft.
Let the soup cool until no longer steaming, and then blend the soup using a hand or stand blender until it has a smooth, velvety consistency. Season generously with salt and pepper, and stir in the heavy cream (if using).
Cook the bacon in a wide skillet until crisp. Gently reheat the soup, without letting it boil. Ladle the soup into bowls, and crumble bacon and sprinkle over chives, to serve.
Originally posted October 2014.