And you didn’t know you needed another excuse to eat fennel, did you? Well, here it is. As an astute diner at my table recently pointed out, it’s kind of like a fennel vichyssoise. Creamy and smooth, rich with the exotic aromas of my favorite vegetable, Foeniculum vulgare, this soup is a perfect start to a fancy dinner. Top it with a little bacon if you dare. For wine, I recommend a nice Erbaluce, a fine Italian white from the Piedmont.
Cream of Fennel Soup
makes a bit more than a gallon
1/4 cup butter
1/4 pound shallots, peeled & minced (about 1/2 cup)
3 pounds fennel bulbs, quartered, cored, & diced 1/2 inch (about 3 bulbs; 8 cups)
3/4 pound white potatoes, peeled & diced 1/2 inch (about 2 cups)
2 quarts not-too-salty chicken stock
1 cup cream
3 teaspoons Absinthe
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
salt to taste
In a large, heavy-bottomed pot, sauté shallots in butter over medium-low flame until a little soft, about 5 minutes. Add fennel, potatoes, & stock and bring to a simmer over high flame. Reduce flame to low, cover, and simmer 40 minutes. Puree in batches in blender or food processor or food mill & return to (wiped out) pot. Add cream, Absinthe, & white pepper and simmer for 20 minutes. Taste for salt and serve.