Roasted fennel and somerset cider soup

Fennel and apples provide a wonderful marriage of flavours in this creamy soup

Ingredients (Serves 4-6)

  • 2 large fennel bulbs
  • 2 large red onions, peeled
  • Olive oil for drizzling
  • 1 bunch of lemon thyme sprigs
  • 1 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tbsp fennel seeds
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 300ml/1/2pt dry cider
  • 1ltr/13/4pt vegetable stock
  • 300ml/1/2pt double cream
  • Good glug of Somerset apple brandy or Calvados

Preheat the oven to 200°C, 400°F, Gas 6.

Trim the feathery leaves off the fennel, reserving some for the garnish. Trim the rest of the bulbs, top and bottom, then cut into wedges. Cut the onions into similar-sized pieces then place in a roasting tin with the fennel.

Drizzle with olive oil and scatter over the lemon thyme, coriander and fennel seeds. Season with freshly ground black pepper.

Roast for 30-45 minutes, until lightly caramelised, then pour the cider over. Roast for a further 15 minutes, or until the cider has almost been absorbed.

Leave to cool slightly, then whizz the onion, fennel and juices in a blender until smooth.

Transfer to a saucepan and stir in the stock. Bring to the boil over a high heat then reduce the heat to medium and simmer until reduced by one-third. Leave to cool.

Using a wooden spoon, press the soup through a fine sieve, twice if time allows. Pour into a clean pan, add the cream and heat gently, without letting it boil and stirring constantly, until hot. Add the apple brandy just before serving.

Ladle into bowls and garnish with chopped fennel leaves.