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Potato and Fennel Soup with Rosemary Scones

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Serves: 4

75g / 3 oz butter
2 onions, chopped
5ml / 1 tsp fennel seeds, crushed
3 fennel bulbs, coarsely chopped
900g / 2 lb potatoes, thinly sliced
1.2 litres / 2 pints chicken stock
150ml / 1/4 pint double (heavy) cream
salt and ground black pepper
fresh herb flowers and 15ml / 1 tbsp chopped fresh chives, to garnish

For the rosemary scones (biscuits):
225g / 8 oz self-raising flour
2.5ml / 1/2 tsp salt
5ml / 1 tsp baking powder
10ml / 2 tsp chopped fresh rosemary
50g / 2 oz butter
150ml / 1/4 pint milk
1 egg, beaten, to glaze


Melt the butter in a pan. Add the onions and cook gently for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until very soft. Add the fennel seeds and cook for 2-3 minutes. Stir in the fennel and potatoes. Cover the vegetables with a sheet of wet baking parchment and put a lid on the pan. Cook gently for 10 minutes until very soft.

Remove the parchment. Pour in the stock, bring to the boil, cover and simmer for 35 minutes. Meanwhile, make the scones. Preheat the oven to 230ºC / 450ºF / Gas 8 and grease a baking tray. Sift the flour, salt and baking powder into a bowl.

Stir in the rosemary, then rub in the butter. Add the milk and mix to form a soft dough. Knead very lightly on a floured surface. Roll out to 2cm / 3/4 in thick. Stamp out 12 rounds with a cutter. Brush with the egg and bake on the prepared baking tray for 8-10 minutes, until risen and golden. Cool on a wire rack until warm. Leave the soup to cool slightly, then puree it in a food processor or blender until smooth. Press through a sieve (strainer) into the rinsed pan.

Stir in the cream with seasoning to taste. Reheat gently but do not boil. Ladle the soup into four warmed soup bowls and scatter a few herb flowers and chopped chives over each. Serve immediately with the warm rosemary scones.

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