Fennel and almond soup from Little Red Gooseberries by Daphne Lambert
4 fennel bulbs
1.2 litres (2 pints) vegetable stock
4 tablespoons ground almonds
Salt and pepper
1. Cut the fennel leaves from the bulb and save for decoration. Remove the tough outer layers of the fennel bulb and chop the remaining bulb into small pieces. Remove the outer leaves from the leek and slice into rounds.
2. Melt the butter in a thick-bottomed pan and stir in the fennel and leek. Sweat gently for 5 minutes. Add the stock and bring to to boil, then simmer for 10 minutes. Add the ground almonds and cook uncovered for a further 10 minutes.
3. Cool slightly then blend the soup until smooth. Heat through and divide between 4 bowls.
4. Serve garnished with the chopped fennel leaves (although I used some lovely purple watercress I found in the farmers market last weekend).
As per usual, there was something I tinkered with or, in this case, left out because I didn't have it :-) The recipe specifies that 2 teaspoons of pastis should be added at step 3. So if you like a stronger aniseedy flavour, go for it. However, although I love fennel both raw and cooked, I dislike stronger aniseed flavours like liquorice, so I was perfectly happy with my non-pastis version of this soup.
I'm sure it's possible to cut the butter down for this recipe but it does add a gorgeous rounded-out flavour that complements the fennel and almonds rather well, so I'm loathe to mess with it.