Categories: Soups, Vegetarian
      Yield: 6 Servings
  1 1/2 lb Potatoes
           - red or yellow-fleshed
      2    Fennel bulbs
      1 lb Ripe tomatoes; peeled
           -and seeded, juice reserved
      2 c  -whole canned tomatoes
      4 tb Virgin olive oil
      1 lg Leek; white part only,
           - finely  diced
      1 lg Yellow onion
           - cut into wedges 1/2" thick
      2    Garlic cloves; minced
      1 ts Herbes de Provence
      3 pn Saffron threads
      1 lg Strip orange zest (2" long)
      2    Bay leaves
      1 c  Dry white wine
      2 tb Chopped parsley
     12    Nicoise olives, pitted; -OR-
           - Gaeta or oil-cured
           - Black olives, pitted
  PEEL THE POTATOES AND SLICE them lengthwise into quarters or, if
  large, into 6ths. Trim the fennel, remove the outer leaves if they're
  scarred, and cut into wedges 1/2-inch thick or a little wider. Leave
  some of the core so that the pieces stay intact. Cut the tomatoes
  into large, neat pieces. Bring a pot of water to a boil, add salt to
  taste and the potatoes, and boil for 5 minutes. Remove the potatoes,
  but save the water. While the potatoes are cooking, warm the olive
  oil in a wide pan. When hot, add the leek, onion, garlic, herbs, a
  little salt, saffron, orange zest and bay leaves. Cook slowly over
  medium heat until the onions have begun to soften, after 6 or 7
  minutes, then add the wine. Let it reduce by approximately half, then
  add the tomatoes and their juice, the potatoes, fennel, half the
  parsley and the olives. Pour in enough of the reserved potato water
  to cover, bring to a boil and lower the heat. At this point, you can
  set the stew aside and finish it later, either in the oven or on top
  of the stove. If cooking on top of the stove, cover the pan and cook
  slowly until the vegetables are tender, about 35 minutes. If cooking
  in the oven, preheat it to 375F, cover loosely and bake for about 1
  hour, or until done. Remove bay leaves. Garnish with the remaining
  parsley and serve with a bowl of garlic mayonnaise.

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