This soup is perfect as a starter, but hearty enough to be a great lunch or supper. To make it a main course, serve in a big bowl with slices of good quality sourdough that have been toasted, rubbed with garlic and drizzled with olive oil.
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus extra to serve
2 medium fennel bulbs, cut into 2cm pieces
6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1½ litres chicken stock
3 handfuls of fresh basil leaves, plus extra to garnish
125ml pure cream
40g grated parmesan, plus extra to serve
freshly ground pepper
1. Heat the extra virgin olive oil in a heavy-based saucepan, then add the fennel, garlic and a good pinch of sea salt. Cook over a medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the fennel starts to soften, about 10 minutes.
2. Add the stock, bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer, uncovered, for about 20 minutes. Add the basil and cook for a further two minutes.
3. Pour the soup into a blender and pulse until well puréed but not completely smooth – you want the soup to have a bit of texture. Return to the pan and stir in the cream and parmesan.
4. Divide the soup among four bowls, add a good grind of fresh pepper and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with extra basil leaves and some grated parmesan.
If you love this recipe, check out Neil Perry's butterflied chicken with ricotta, garlic and spice stuffing.