Serve this simple soup just with bread or toast or add a seafood element by placing thinly sliced sashimi-grade scallops or fish in the serving bowls before ladling in the hot soup - it should be just the right temperature to slightly cook the seafood.
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 20 gm butter, diced
- 1 large leek (white part only), halved and thinly sliced
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 2 star anise
- 800 gm fennel (about 3 large bulbs), coarsely chopped, fronds reserved, stalks thinly sliced to serve
- 4 thyme sprigs
- 1 fresh bay leaf
- 1 litre chicken stock (4 cups)
- 300 gm crème fraîche
- Sourdough toast, to serve
- ½ tsp fennel seeds
- ½ tsp coriander seeds
- ½ tsp brown mustard seeds
- ½ tsp black peppercorns
- 1Heat olive oil and butter in a large saucepan over high heat, add leek, garlic and star anise and sauté until leek and garlic start to caramelise (3-5 minutes). Add fennel, thyme and bay leaf, and stir until fennel softens slightly (2-3 minutes). Add stock, season to taste, cover and bring to the boil, then remove lid and cook uncovered, stirring occasionally, until fennel is tender (10-12 minutes). Discard herbs and star anise, add crème fraîche, season to taste and blend with a hand-held blender until smooth.
- 2Meanwhile, for four spice, grind spices with a mortar and pestle.
- 3Scatter soup with fennel stalks and fronds, season to taste with four spice and serve with sourdough toast.