3/4 cup leeks, or a combination of leeks and onions
3 tablespoons olive oil 1 1/2 lb tomatoes (fresh or good-quality canned whole plum tomatoes)
4 large garlic cloves
5 cups light vegetable broth
1/4 Cup raw white rice
The following tied in a cheesecloth:
6 parsley sprigs
1 bay leaf
1/4 teaspoon thyme
4 fennel seeds
6 large basil leaves
a large pinch of saffron threads
salt and pepper
few pinches of sugar
1 teaspoon or more tomato paste
salt and pepper
2 or more tablespoons fresh basil, minced or sliced


Thinly slice the leeks. Heat the oil slowly in a large heavy-bottomed pot. Cook the leeks slowly in the olive oil until the leeks are tender but not browned.
Meanwhile, either chop the tomatoes or puree them in a medium bowl with a hand-held immersion blender. Mince or mash the garlic. When the leeks are tender, add the tomatoes and garlic and stir over moderate heat for 3 minutes.
Then add the vegetable broth, bring to a boil, and then add the rice. Add the herbs and saffron. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Simmer, partially covered, for 30 minutes.
Carefully taste for seasoning, adding pinches of sugar to bring out flavor and counteract acidity, and small amounts of tomato paste if needed for color and taste. Remove the herb bouquet if using a cheesecloth.
Serve the soup either hot or chilled, sprinkled with fresh basil.