- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 bulb fennel, chopped
- 1 pound asparagus, trimmed and thinly sliced on bias
- 2 large leeks, whites and light greens cut into half moons
- 4 cloves garlic, chopped
- Salt and pepper
- 2 cups shelled fresh peas
- 1 cup shelled favas, fresh or defrosted or frozen shelled edamame
- 1 quart chicken or vegetable stock
- 8 slices good quality peasant bread
- Softened butter
- 4 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons crème fraiche
- Thinly sliced cornichons
- 8 slices Gruyère or Swiss cheese
- 3/4 pound imported mild ham, such as Mandrange
- 8 slices ripe brie or Camembert
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 1 cup packed parsley and mint leaves combined
Heat a soup pot over medium-high heat with olive oil. Add fennel and sauté few minutes to soften; add asparagus, leeks, garlic, salt and pepper, and cook a few minutes more, partially covered.
Add peas, favas and stock, and simmer to heat through. Purée half of the soup and return it back to the pot.
Heat a cast-iron pan or griddle over medium to medium-high heat. Butter one side of the sliced bread. Combine the Dijon and crème fraiche and spread it on the opposite side of 4 of the slices of bread, arrange the cornichons in the Dijon cream. Top the Dijon with Gruyère or Swiss and a few slices of ham, top ham with sliced brie or camembert and finish with another slice of bread, buttered side facing out. Grill cheese and ham until deeply golden and cheese melted.
Add lemon juice to soup. Serve in bowls topped with herbs. Cut sandwiches in half and serve alongside.