This naturally creamy soup is made without dairy or dairy alternatives

A light and deliciously nutritious soup, overflowing with fresh fennel and leeks

By Bibi Hutchings


Published January 29, 2022 4:30PM (EST)

Creamy fennel soup with fresh herbs (Getty Images/zeleno)
Creamy fennel soup with fresh herbs (Getty Images/zeleno)

My love of fennel began late — really late — like in my 40's late. As I watched a friend shake fennel seeds all over what turned out to be the best homemade pizza I'd ever tasted, it was love at first sight. 

From there, I sought out recipes featuring or including fresh fennel, and I fell in love with it, too. I began chopping it into salads or including in freshly pressed juices.

If you ask someone what fennel tastes like, usually the response you get is that it tastes like licorice. Well, I don't like licorice, but I really like fennel, so go figure.

Related: The absolute best way to cook fennel (because this underappreciated veggie deserves a Renaissance)

To be clear and forthcoming, fennel, just like anise, has a licorice-like flavor. This flavor comes from the essential oil, anethole, which both have in their seeds, even though they're totally unrelated. But enough about all of that, and back to this wonderful soup. You need to trust me — and just make it.

This is the most satisfying of soups. It's naturally creamy, made without dairy, dairy alternatives or starch. It's light and deliciously nutritious, overflowing with fresh fennel and leeks. It's easy to prepare and just different enough to wow. I think it's the perfect starter for a chilly January evening meal or equally perfect on its own as a light lunch or supper.

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Before delivering the recipe to you, I'd be remiss if I withheld my favorite shortcut when making this soup (as well as all of my favorite soups). If you already have a broth you love, feel free to disregard, but I absolutely love "Not Chik'n" and "Garden Veggie" bouillon cubes by Edward & Sons. You can get them on Amazon or at your local health food store. They have the best flavor, and you can use them to replace broth in any recipe. 

Well, what are you waiting for? Now that you know my soup secret, run to the store and get what you need to make this recipe.


Recipe: Fennel and Leek Soup



  • 3 leeks
  • 1 fennel bulb, chopped (reserve some of the fronds for garnish)
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • 1 package of mushrooms (washed, dried and sliced)
  • 3-4 cups water or broth (adjust salt if using plain water), enough to almost cover chopped vegetables
  • Butter, coconut oil or olive oil for sautéing


  1. In a soup pot, combine the leeks, fennel, thyme and water or broth.
  2. Heat to a boil, then simmer until the vegetables are soft, about 25 minutes.

  3. While soup is simmering, sauté mushrooms in a little butter, coconut oil or olive oil until well done. Set aside to add to the soup at the end.

  4. Using an immersion blender, blend soup to desired degree of smoothness. Then add the sautéed mushrooms.

  5. Serve in individual bowls and garnish with fennel fronds.

Cook's Notes

Before you cook the leeks, submerge them in water and manually shake them around/massage them to get all of the dirt and grit out. Take them out of water by hand (the dirt and grit sinks to the bottom) and re-rinse.

More from Bibi's Southern kitchen: 

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By Bibi Hutchings

Bibi Hutchings, a lifelong Southerner, lives along a quiet coastal Alabama bay with her cat, Zulu, and husband, Tom. She writes about the magical way food evokes memories, instantly bringing you back to the people, places and experiences of your life. Her stories take you all around the South and are accompanied with tried-and-true recipes that are destined to become a part of your memory-making as you share them with your friends and family.         

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