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leek, fennel, apple + walnut soup with turmeric

leek, fennel, apple + walnut soup // the first messapple rejects // the first messleek, fennel, apple + walnut soup // the first messingredients // the first mess
I found out that our new house was a done deal when I was at work. In the moment, I was thrilled and hugging basically everyone that entered my line of sight. The sorta stress-y negotiation bit was behind us and whoa! We would have a house soon. When my shift was done, I drove home down all of the empty country roads. I was getting ready for bed when I started feeling choked up and teary eyed. It wasn’t because of barely-containable elation either. I was overwhelmed at the thought that my life would be completely different, that the change in my day-to-day would be so great. Renovation projects would replace weekends away. Savings plans for anticipated future expenses would take precedence over any sort of prolonged travel (and certainly over a new pair of ankle boots). Our new, but seriously very old, home would demand some priority rearrangement.

That overwhelmed feeling washed away soon enough, pretty much right after a cry-fest where I told my mom that I didn’t want to “live like a gross hobo” because our creaky character home was going to bleed us dry. Everyone has assured me that these things take time and that it’s insane to try and tackle everything at once. I’m slowly beginning to accept their advice.

We got the keys last week and I’ve been working on the absolute terror of a garden/yard with my mom every day while the weather’s decent. We’ve made progress on the two years of wild neglect out there. There’s an ex-pond feature buried under piles of rocks, tarp and dirt. Grubs in the grass. Weeds that come up to my neck. Trees and shrubs so out of control. Lots of half-baked plans that need cleaning up and a fresh start. My mom is a serious badass, so we’re getting there.

There was a giant yew in front of one of the dining room windows. The house is starved for natural light and this thing was in ugly shape, so the plan was to take it down–maybe with the help of a professional. There were bees lightly buzzing around this thing when we rolled up to it one morning, so the possibility of a nest forming had entered the picture. So my mom starts trimming it down. The bees are stirring/swarming a bit more. Then she started laying into it with a hacksaw and a THIS ENDS NOW kinda vibe. I’m keeping busy cleaning up the branches when a bee lands right on my hand. Feeling the buzzz and seeing it’s little wing flicks, I yelped and leaped away, waving my hands around.

At this point my mother had sawed the entire thing down, glanced only slightly shamefully at my wussy ass, pointed a finger straight at my face, and said “You need to toughen up.” LIFE LESSON MUCH?! Told ya she was a badass.

This soup is only slightly related to the backbreaking insanity that I just described. It’s cooled off a bit, so the thought of hot soup and a crust of bread after some time spent outdoors is rather appealing. I love fennel with leeks and apples in a salad situation, all sprinkled with toasted + chopped walnuts, so I thought a warm version of that might feel just right. Turmeric is kind of an anti-bad-vibe shield for inflammation of all kinds, so a hefty spoonful of that went in for my achy muscles. It dyes the soup mustard-yellow, which is kind of cheerful in its own special way. I pre-toast the walnuts in the pan, simmer them along with the veg and purée them into the soup itself. Insane toasty walnut flavour comes through with all of the leeks, fennel and lightly sweet apple and makes the whole thing a touch creamier. Kinda awesome.

leek, fennel, apple + walnut soup // the first messleek, fennel, apple + walnut soup // the first messleek, fennel, apple + walnut soup // the first mess

leek, fennel, apple + walnut soup with turmeric
serves: 4-6
notes: Have you cooked with turmeric before? Be careful, friends. It dyes any and all things bright, acid yellow–LIKE FOREVER.

soup ingredients:
2 tbsp grapeseed oil
3 leeks, white + light green parts chopped (discard green tops or use them for stock)
4 sprigs of thyme, leaves minced
1 fennel bulb, cored and chopped (reserve a few fronds for garnish)
1 medium apple, peeled, cored + chopped
1-2 tsp ground turmeric
1/2 cup walnut halves, toasted
salt + pepper
4 cups vegetable stock

to serve:
maple syrup
fresh black pepper
reserved fennel fronds
more toasty walnuts

Heat the grapeseed oil in a large soup pot over medium. Add the chopped leeks and thyme. Stir and sauté the leeks until they are a bit soft, about 4 minutes. Add the chopped fennel and apples. Stir everything up a bit. Add the turmeric and stir to coat all of the vegetables evenly. Sauté the vegetables until the fennel is starting to soften, another 4 minutes. Add the walnuts and stir them in. Season the whole thing with salt and pepper. Add the vegetable stock and stir.

Bring the pot to a boil and simmer until all of the vegetables/apples are very soft, about 12-15 minutes. Remove the soup from the heat. Carefully blend the mixture in batches until totally smooth. Check the soup for seasoning and adjust accordingly. Bring the puréed soup to a boil and serve hot with drizzles of maple syrup, fresh black pepper, fennel fronds and more toasted walnuts.

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Beth Young17/10/2013 - 5:38 am

BEAUTIFUL colours! And such wonderful photography! We eat a lot of fennel in Italy so will definitely give this a go!

Harriet17/10/2013 - 7:00 am

This recipe looks so seasonally delicious (and beautiful!). Also, your story made me laugh out loud, parents are hilarious. But I bet your garden is going to be amazing!

Emma Galloway17/10/2013 - 8:55 am

LOVE this and can so relate. We bought our house (back in NZ) a few weeks before I was due with our first kid. It’s shabbiness was overwhelming, thankfully I was in full nesting mode so climbing up on shaky ladders (true story-imagine crazy big belly lady) to clean the years of cobwebs from the window frames was totally doable. The oven on the other hand was another story. It was so feral I out-right refused to clean it, or use it. The plan was to chuck it and buy a new one… until a few months later when I bit the bullet and cleaned the damn thing. Realising full well that we had no extra cash to buy a new one! You will get past this and look back and smile. You own your own home, it’s YOURS! That is super cool xx
P.s LOVING this soup.

Emma17/10/2013 - 8:58 am

Sounds like such a fun project you’re taking on. I can imagine it’s a huge amount of work but think of the perfect home you’ll have when it’s all over :)
Gorgeous soup. All flavours I love.

Sini | my blue&white kitchen17/10/2013 - 9:02 am

Oh, wow. Look at that incredible, vibrant color! I wonder if I can use fresh turmeric root instead…I’ll try!

And congrats for your new house! I’m sure it’ll turn into a lovely home.

Ashley17/10/2013 - 9:57 am

Congrats on the house!! I can completely relate to this post, except for the part where your mom chops down trees. :) For the past 2.5 years we’ve had never-ending projects and are now on to old house #2. It’s intense but rewarding. The hardest part is for me is feeling like I want it to all be done right now. We just want to feel settled! I’ve gotten over that with the “new” house but am still itching to be able to unpack everything. Slow + steady. xoxo Now, soup me, please!

Kulsum17/10/2013 - 10:08 am

I think you shall make your house beautiful just like this soup. I have many (MANY) turmeric stained wooden spoons and your photo reminded me of that. ah!

ana17/10/2013 - 12:20 pm

My mum is almost as badass as yours ;-)
Amazing idea for the soup! I got used to having yellow stains around my kitchen. Gotta love that root!

Reesa17/10/2013 - 1:22 pm

Beautifully written post, and gorgeous looking soup! Not the sort of thing I’d usually make (I find leeks fussy and don’t loooove walnuts), but you’ve definitely inspired me! You’re so tough out there, it makes me want to try something new. I bet I’ll be glad.

ebie17/10/2013 - 2:28 pm

Congrats on the home! My dude and I also recently bought a little fixer-upper; we’ve been showering outdoors for two months now while we painstakingly correct 70 years of bad tile, uneven wall studs and poor ventilation in the one and only bathroom. We completed the last touch last night — refinishing the chipped-up vintage tub with a totally noxious epoxy — and when it’s officially cured in three days, and we can finally shower indoors again, I believe I’d like to celebrate with this soup. (It’s about time, too, because the romance and novelty of showering outside is quickly wearing off as really cold weather sets in!)

Juliette17/10/2013 - 3:39 pm

Congratulations on your new home!! Your mom sounds like an amazing badass person =)

Kathryn17/10/2013 - 5:27 pm

Love the sound of your new pad; so much character and life in it. This soup is totally perfect too, bright and rich and flavoursome and good.

Claire (Eat Well. Party Hard.)17/10/2013 - 8:09 pm

“You need to toughen up.” Daaaaaamn, life lesson indeed! Huge congrats and best wishes as the new adventure gets underway :)

Jenn Radford17/10/2013 - 11:23 pm

Reading about your combined fear/excitement about buying your own house totally struck a chord with me! The elation from being told that you “won” to the intense reality of So. Much. Debt is a roller coaster. 2 years after my house buying, my garden is still a bit of a shambles, but it’s home.

I’ve been loving your blog for a while now, I am in Australia, so I have to store all your recipes upside down so the seasons suit me better. We’ve had a realyl mild start to our Spring on the West Coast, so I will probably give this recipe a try on the weekend anyway!

Fresh and Foodie18/10/2013 - 11:26 am

I am dying over this photography. I’d seriously hang that soup on my wall. Wow.

Stacy18/10/2013 - 2:44 pm

Priorities! Savings! Adulthood! It’s tough stuff, this living-life business. I’m with you. Every time things seem to be running smoothly, or the hard stuff has been sorted out momentarily, something new comes up. Good thing we have soup, and soothing tasks like gardening, and mothers and mentors to push us to be a bit more bad ass ourselves. xoxo

Jacqui18/10/2013 - 5:07 pm

We bought our house about 1 1/2 years ago. Our house is pretty old too and your yard sounds just like the disarray that ours was in! But it’s coming along, inside and out. It always seems daunting the tasks to do, but I still get excited every time we start something new. Gorgeous soup!

sandra18/10/2013 - 8:24 pm

I made this dish and it was fabulous – you can see mine over at meadowscooks.blogspot.com

ara20/10/2013 - 10:34 pm

Just made this for my mom last night with curry powder instead of plain turmeric and it was amazing! She asked for the recipe and I can’t wait to make it again :) Thank you!

[…] while other lentils will get a bit mushy. At the top of my “to try” list is this leek fennel apple and walnut soup, also from The First Mess. The unique flavor combination (not to mention the gorgeous photo) caught […]

Ian11/11/2013 - 9:56 pm

Great story and amazing photos you post on your blog. This recipe in particular looks like something that will taste amazing this time of year. It’s funny how the palette changes with the seasons. The flavors of apple, fennel, and leek are so bold yet seem to complement each other well. Can’t wait to make this!

Diana15/11/2013 - 8:07 am

I saw this recipe in my inbox and made it the same day. It’s a lovely soup and my husband enjoyed it very much. I topped it with home made croutons!

slywlf15/11/2013 - 10:12 am

Oh my that was fun – and funny! And I can so relate to the panic/elation conundrum, as I am in the final stages of selling my home/business of 10 years and moving to a serious fixer-upper with a dear friend who has been my rock since my husband died. She sounds a lot like your mother – a dynamo who never says never ;-)
I was referred here by 101 Cookbooks and I’m so glad I came! Sounds so delicious – you now have a new RSS subscriber ;-)
As for turmeric staining – hoo boy don’t I know it! I was turned on to warm turmeric milk by another site, and quickly discovered how that stuff will stain anything it comes in contact with! The one thing I have found that helps is as soon as you can pat a paste of baking soda and water on the spot(s) and leave it. Success will depend on the material involved; stainless steel and glass will eventually come clean – plastic and counter laminate …. not so much – oh well – I like yellow ;-)

Audrey15/11/2013 - 5:00 pm

I just made this. I used roasted almonds instead of walnuts, and added a parsnip instead of leeks, stirred in some kale at the end, then topped it with a bit of honey, pepitas and greek yogurt and a dash of curry powder. Soooo delish! Thanks for the inspiration.

teague17/11/2013 - 2:45 am

Your mom sounds awesome! It’s always nice to have someone to share some tough love every once in a while, and then a big bowl of soup to cheer you up after! Looks delicious!

Haley - egginon23/11/2013 - 8:30 pm

Wow this looks so so delicious! Perfect for chilly fall days!

[…] The original recipe I found here. I tweaked it a bit. […]

[…] This flavour combination sounds fantastic: leek, fennel, apple, and walnut soup  […]

Katie @ Whole Nourishment30/11/2013 - 2:09 pm

I made this for lunch today to go with a beluga lentil salad. It was simple to throw together and so delicious. The walnuts add a wonderful body and the yellow color from the turmeric is beautiful.

Bartek14/12/2013 - 4:13 pm

Today was our first major snowfall here in Toronto. This soup was warming and it reminded me of autumn, although excited for tobogganing and the winter like, this was lovely :) Thank you.

[…] Suppe war eine Lauch-Fenchel-Walnuss-Suppe, die ich am Dienstag schon gekocht hatte und die ich zusammen mit ein paar extra Adukibohnen in den […]

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[…] Leek, fennel, apple and walnut make up the simple ingredients in this vegan meal. (via The First Mess) […]

Ellen Lederman13/07/2014 - 3:09 pm

I just discovered your blog when I searched for vegan recipe using fennel (Trader Joe’s had two bulbs for $2.49). Wow! This soup was fantastic. So gourmet and unique. I saved a few pieces of the leeks and fennel to float in the soup so it wasn’t all pureed and roasted the leeks and fennel in the oven before putting them into the soup. Soup is so healthy, with the veggies, walnut, and turmeric (almost felt I didn’t have to take my turmeric supplement after having this for lunch!).

I’ll be back to visit..often. You’re amazing—great writing and photography, along with fantastic-sounding recipes. You really have a neck for food styling/presentation….I tried to drizzle/swirl the maple syrup on top, but it just immediately fell down into the soup and blurred…what is the secret?

Thanks so much for such a gorgeous and incredibly tasty labor of love…

Laura Wright14/07/2014 - 8:55 am

Hey Ellen! Thanks for your incredibly kind comment. And honestly I’m not sure what the secret is with maple syrup drizzling. Maybe I just had a really viscous batch or something?! I just pour it right from the bottle!
Thanks again.
-L

Terry04/08/2014 - 9:18 am

Thanks for the recipe (I’ll add apple to the fennel/leek soup I am making today, and maybe some spices.) About turmeric: we have an ancient formica kitchen counter; I have learned not to stress too much about the turmeric stains, because they do indeed fade away over time—about 2 weeks.

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