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Roasted Fennel Soup with Walnuts and Stilton

INGREDIENTS:1 large fennel bulb, cut into quarters
2 Tbsps. canola oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 leek, whites only, sliced
1 cup russet potatoes, peeled, cubed
2 cups chicken stock
2 Tbsps. dry sherry
½ cup half and half
½ cup roasted walnuts, coarsely chopped
¼ cup Stilton cheese, crumbled
1 lemon, zest only, finely chopped
1 Tbsp. fresh chives, mincedDIRECTIONS:1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Toss fennel with 1 tablespoon of the oil. Sprinkle with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Roast fennel on a baking pan until tender and golden brown, about 15-20 minutes.

2. While fennel is roasting, heat remaining oil in a heavy, medium-sized pot over a medium low heat. Add leeks, stirring to coat with oil. Cover pot and cook the leeks for 5 minutes, until they are translucent. Add potatoes and stock. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until the potatoes are fully cooked, about 20 minutes. Puree mixture with a hand-held blender or in a food processor until smooth.

3. Allow fennel to cool. When easy to handle, slice fennel lengthwise into small strips about ½-inch wide. Add to potato mixture. Add sherry and half-and-half to reach the desired texture of the soup. Return to a simmer, and stir in walnut pieces. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

4. To serve: Toss Stilton cheese with lemon zest. Ladle soup into warm bowls. Top with a tablespoon of Stilton mixture. Sprinkle with minced chives and extra walnuts if desired.SERVINGS:From:Recipe from the Walnut Marketing BoardPHOTO CREDIT:Photo Credit: WALNUT MARKETING BOARD