Fennel soup with goats cheese croutons

Allegra McEvedys twist on a French classic would make a sumptuous start to a dinner party
By Allegra McEvedy
Fennel soup with goats cheese croutons
  • Rating:
  • Serves: 4 as a main or 6 as a starter
  • Cook Time: 50 minutes
  • Prep Time: 25 minutes
  • Effort: easy

Ingredients

For the soup

  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 55 g butter
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 sticks celery, finely chopped
  • 1 leek, trimmed and finely chopped
  • 2 bulbs fennel, finely chopped
  • 1.2 litres light chicken stock
  • 150 ml cream

For the croutons

  • 50 g sourdough bread, cut into 1cm squares
  • 100 g goats' cheese
  • olive oil, for drizzling
  • 1 lemon, grated zest only

Method

1. For the soup: toast the fennel seeds in a dry frying pan over a medium heat until fragrant. Place in a mortar or spice grinder and grind the fennel seeds until crushed.

2. Melt the butter in a saucepan and gently fry the onion and garlic with the ground fennel for 5 minutes.

3. Add the celery, leek and fennel, season with salt and pepper and stir. Cover the pan and cook over a low heat for 2025 minutes, stirring from time to time to prevent the vegetables from browning.

4. Add the stock, bring the mixture to the boil then skim any froth from the surface. Simmer the soup for a further 15 minutes.

5. For the croutons: preheat the oven 180C/fan 160C/gas 4. Spread the squares of bread over the tray and crumble over the goats cheese. Drizzle over a little olive oil, sprinkle over the lemon zest and season with a little pepper.

6. Bake the croutons for 57 minutes, or until golden. Remove from the oven and move them about whilst warm to ensure they dont stick to the baking tray as they cool.

7. Pour the soup into the blender and process until really smooth. Stir in the cream and check the seasoning.

8. Serve the soup topped with the croutons.

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