Confession: I’ve always found potato-leek soup to be a little on the gluey side. So, when I make it at home, I try to add a green element, especially in spring months. Asparagus becomes quite subtle in this soup and pairs well with the anise-y fennel and peppery arugula in the background. Any manner of peas (sweet, sugar snap, snow) could be swapped for the asparagus. Because we are pulverizing much of the fiber in this recipe, I garnish the soup with a few raw asparagus spears as a carb companion.

Leeks can be quite gritty. To wash them, cut off the stringy base and the dark-green top (right above where the outermost leaf separates from the layers below). Halve the leek lengthwise and then rinse each half under the running water, fanning the outer layers so any grit is washed away. Then, thinly slice each half into half moons.


  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

    WNK-Carbivore Book Cover Carbivore: 130 Healthy Recipes to Stop Fearing Carbs and Embrace the Comfort Foods You Love Phoebe Lapine
  • 1 fennel bulb, sliced

  • 1 large leek, thinly sliced (see headnote)

  • 1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced, white and light green parts separated

  • 2 garlic cloves, minced

  • 1 pound russet potatoes (about 2 medium), unpeeled, cut into 1-inch cubes

  • 6 cups vegetable or chicken stock

  • 1 teaspoon sea salt

  • 1 pound asparagus

  • 2 cups packed baby arugula or watercress

  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

  • 1/4 cup Anise-y Pine Nut–Almond Crunch (see below; optional)


  1. In a large stockpot or Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over a medium-high flame. Add the fennel, leek, and white scallions. Cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and starting to lightly brown, about 7 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another few minutes until becoming golden.

  2. Add the potatoes, stock, and salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, until the potatoes are soft enough to pierce with a fork, about 15 minutes.

  3. Meanwhile, trim the asparagus by removing the tough bottom inch, or any section that is thick, white, and hard to cut through, and discard. Roughly chop all but 4 aspara- gus spears. Finely chop the remaining spears and set aside for garnish.

  4. Once the potatoes are tender, stir in the roughly chopped asparagus and all but 2 tablespoons of the green scallions. Cook for 2 minutes until the asparagus is al dente and vibrant green.

  5. Off the heat, stir in the arugula and lemon juice, stirring until the greens wilt. Carefully transfer the soup to a high-speed blender, or use an immersion blender, to puree until smooth. Taste for seasoning, and add more salt, as needed.

  6. Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with the reserved scallions, raw asparagus pieces, a drizzle of oil, and the pine nut crunch (if using).

    Anise-y Pine Nut–Almond Crunch

    I consider this nutty crunch an Italian interpretation of dukkah, using fennel seeds, dried herbs, and red pepper flakes. And it makes me feel better when I use it on my Carbivore lazy dinner of choice: spaghetti and tomato sauce (with a starter salad, duh). It pairs well with other ingredients that have a hint of anise, like the fennel in Spring Potato-Leek Soup with Asparagus and Seared Scallops with White Beans, Watercress & Kefir Green Goddess Dressing, or the basil in Crispy Polenta Cakes with Eggplant–Cherry Tomato Caponata. 


    • 1/2 cup unsalted almonds

    • 1/2 cup pine nuts

    • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds

    • 1 teaspoon fresh oregano, rosemary, or thyme leaves, or

    • 1/4 teaspoon dried

    • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt

    • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

    In a small food processor, pulse the almonds, pine nuts, fennel seeds, oregano, salt, and red pepper flakes until the nuts are coarsely chopped. Alternatively, chop everything by hand.

    Transfer the nut mixture to a small dry skillet and place it over medium-low heat. Toast the nut mixture, stirring occasionally, until very lightly browned and fragrant, about 2 minutes. 

    Let the nuts cool completely before storing. 

    Excerpted from Carbivore: 130 Healthy Recipes to Stop Fearing Carbs and Embrace the Comfort Foods You Love by Phoebe Lapine. Copyright © 2024. Available from Hachette Go, an imprint of Hachette Book Group, Inc.

    When you shop using our links, we earn a small commission. It’s a great way to support public media at no extra cost to you!