Cream of Cauliflower and Fennel Soup

A hot soup is a wonderful way to welcome people into a wintertime gathering.  Stack porcelain cups on the counter by the stove and let guests help themselves.  This soup combines two vegetables that are at their best in winter, and its velvety texture is comforting on a cold night.
2 tbsp unsalted butter
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 fennel bulb, trimmed, cored and cut into 2-in / 5-cm dice
1 large cauliflower, cored and coarsely chopped
1 cup / 240 ml good-quality chicken stock
1/2 cup / 120 ml heavy / double cream
Salt and freshly ground pepper

2 tbsp finely chopped fresh chives for garnish
In a medium soup pot, melt the butter over medium heat just until foaming.  Add the onion and saute' until translucent, about 3 minutes.  Add the fennel and toss to coat.  Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and cook until tender, about 10 minutes; do not brown.  Add the cauliflower and toss to coat.  Add the chicken stock, cover, and simmer until the cauliflower is tender, about 10 minutes.

Puree the soup in a blender or food processor, in batches if necessary, until smooth.  Return to the pot.  Whisk in the cream and salt and pepper to taste.  Maintain at a low simmer over low heat, with a bowl of chives alongside for guests to add their own garnish.

Cauliflower and cream call out for a rich Chardonnay.

The Winemaker Cooks
The Winemaker Cooks by Christine Hanna
Chronicle Books

Chris embodies the Sonoma Lifestyle, as she is a gourmet cook, cookbook author, wine enthusiast, gardener and entertainer.  When asked about her life in Sonoma, Chris says, "When we craft our wines and prepare our meals with locally grown ingredients it makes for a memorable experience. And it is not about impressing people, it's quite the opposite, it's about making them feel comfortable."

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