Serves 6

Leeks, fennel, and carrots flavor this elegant soup, which is seasoned with a little saffron to enhance the vibrant color. Use chicken stock or vegetarian-friendly vegetable broth.

2 tablespoons canola oil
2 leeks, halved and thinly sliced
1 small onion, thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 medium bulb fresh fennel, trimmed and thinly sliced
2½ pounds carrots, cut into thin disks
Salt and pepper, to taste
½ teaspoon saffron
½ cup white wine
4 cups chicken stock or vegetable broth
4 cups water
2 cups half-and-half
½ cup creme fraiche (for sprinkling)
2 tablespoons chopped chives

1. In a soup pot over medium-high heat, heat the oil. Add the leeks, onion, garlic, fennel, carrots, salt, and pepper. Cook, stirring often, for 12 minutes or until the vegetables soften.

2. Add the saffron and cook, stirring, 1 minute more.

3. Pour in the wine and let the mixture bubble rapidly until it is reduced by half. Add chicken stock or vegetable broth and water. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer for 15 minutes or until the vegetables are all tender.

4. Working in batches, puree the soup in a blender until smooth. Meanwhile, in the pot, heat the half-and-half until hot. Return the soup to the pot. Taste for seasoning and add more salt and pepper, if you like. Ladle into bowls. Garnish with creme fraiche and chives.