This Fennel Soup can be made in either vegetarian or vegan variations. The aniseed flavour of the fennel is mellowed by slow cooking and this gives the finished soup a sophisticated taste which belies the simplicity of the ingredients. This means that, although it is really easy to make, this soup would not be out of place as a starter at a dinner party, particularly if you include the additions of cream, Pernod and decorate it with chopped dill or herb fennel.
When I first started cooking for myself, around twenty years ago, I loved to experiment with complicated recipes that included lots of different ingredients. However, over the years, my recipes have generally become simpler. Now I like to focus on one main ingredient and cook it in a way that brings out its particular unique flavour. This Fennel Soup recipe is a really good example of this approach. It is all about the taste of the fennel and how it can be transformed by slow cooking into something really special.
Not everyone likes aniseed. Actually, I am not that keen on aniseed! I do not eat aniseed flavoured sweets and actively dislike Pernod as a drink option. However, I love fennel, particularly when it has been slow cooked, as the aniseed taste is transformed into something special. And the addition of Pernod to the soup gives a aniseed boost without being overpowering.
This is a really easy recipe that showcases the fantastic flavour of fennel. Slow cooking the fennel mellows its aniseed flavour and produces a sophisticated soup that is at home as a dinner party starter as well as an informal lunch.
- 25 g butter or 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 2 fennel bulbs
- 1 onion
- Salt and pepper
- 1 large potato
- 500 ml water
- 1 teaspoon vegetable bouillon powder or a vegetable stockcube
- Milk or water as required to thin the soup
- 1 tablespoon Pernod (optional)
- 1 tablespoon double cream (optional)
- A few sprigs of fresh dill or herb fennel (optional)
- Heat the butter or oil in a large saucepan
- Roughly chop the fennel bulbs and the onion and add to the saucepan. Season the vegetables with salt and pepper and fry them very gently for around 15 minutes until they are soft and sweet.
- Peel and chop the potato and add to the pan with the fennel and onion.
- Add 500 ml of water and a teaspoon of vegetable bouillon powder. Simmer for 15 minutes.
- Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly. Blend the soup until smoothe in a food processor or with a hand-held blender.
- Add milk or water – or a combination – to thin the soup to the desired consistency. You will need around 500 ml depending on how thick you want your soup.
- If you wish, you can add Pernod and cream to the soup before serving and decorate the surface of each bowl with chopped dill or herb fennel.
- This recipe can be either vegetarian or vegan. If you wish to make a vegan version, use oil to cook the vegetables, water to thin the soup and omit the double cream (or use a non-dairy alternative).