This rustic tomato soup has just the right amount of ginger to make it merry and bright. It begins with a sauté of leeks and fennel, which add heft to the final soup. Take note that canned whole peeled tomatoes vary in salt content (I like Muir Glen) so you should taste the soup at the end of cooking and add more salt then if you like. Also, canned tomatoes vary in the amount of sauce they are canned with. I usually find they provide enough liquid (plus about a cup of water) for the amount of time the soup simmers (18 to 20 minutes) to reach a nice final consistency, which will be pleasantly thick. I like to use an immersion blender to puree this, but using your blender can yield a slightly smoother consistency. Serve with Rustic Croutons.

Serves 4, Yields 8 cups

  • 2 tablespoons orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon tomato or sundried tomato paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
  • 2 28-ounce cans whole, peeled tomatoes (I like Muir Glen)
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups thinly sliced leeks (about 3 medium or 4 small leeks), well-washed
  • 1 1/2 cups thinly sliced quartered and cored fennel bulb (about 1 small fennel bulb)
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 cup half ‘n half
  • Rustic Croutons  


1. In a small bowl, combine the orange juice, honey, tomato paste, and balsamic vinegar. Set aside.

2. Empty the contents of both tomato cans into a mixing bowl. Gently break up the tomatoes into smaller pieces using a potato masher or a pair of scissors (or both). Add 1 cup water to the tomato mixture and set aside.

3. In a 4- to 5-quart Dutch oven or other wide saucepan, heat the olive oil and butter over medium-low heat. Add the leeks, fennel, and 1 teaspoon salt. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 8 to 10 minutes. Uncover, raise the heat to medium, and continue cooking, stirring frequently and scraping browned bits off the bottom of pan, until the vegetables are all browned in spots and the bottom of the pan is browning a lot, another 8 to 10 minutes.

4. Add the ground coriander and stir well. Add the ginger and the garlic, and cook, stirring, until softened and fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the orange juice/tomato paste mixture and the tomatoes and stir well to incorporate. Bring the soup to a boil and immediately reduce to a gentle simmer. Cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 18 to 20 minutes. (You will notice on the inside of the pot that the soup has reduced a bit.)

5. Take the pot off the heat and let the soup cool for a few minutes (if using an immersion blender) or for 15 to 20 minutes if using a standing blender.

6. Puree the soup. If using a regular blender, puree the soup in three batches (fill the jar only about half way or just a little more) and cover the blender lid partially with a folded dishtowel (leave a vent opening uncovered to let steam out) to prevent hot soup from splashing on you. Combine the three batches in a mixing bowl, then return to the soup pot. Whisk in the half ‘n half. Taste the soup for seasoning and add more salt or pepper if needed.

7. Reheat the soup very gently. Serve hot garnished with the croutons.