Chunky vegetable soup

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  • 1 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 small leek, thinly sliced
  • 1 large carrot, thinly sliced
  • 1 bulb of fennel, sliced
  • 225 g (8 oz) swede, cubed
  • 225 g (8 oz) potato, peeled and cubed
  • 1 bay leaf
  • several sprigs of fresh thyme
  • several sprigs of parsley
  • 600 ml (1 pint) vegetable stock, preferably home-made
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes, about 400 g
  • salt and pepper
  • fennel leaves (from the bulb, above) or snipped fresh chives, to garnish
  1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan. Add the onion and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until softened but not browned.
  2. Add the leek, carrot, fennel, swede and potato, and cook for a further 5 minutes or until slightly softened. Tie the bay leaf, thyme and parsley sprigs together into a bouquet garni. Add to the pan, together with the stock and tomatoes with their juice. Season to taste and bring to the boil, then cover the pan and reduce the heat. Simmer gently for 45 minutes or until all the vegetables are tender.
  3. Remove the bouquet garni and check the seasoning. Sprinkle the soup with snipped fennel leaves or chives and serve piping hot. Mixed-grain or wholemeal bread are delicious with this soup.