French-style chilled tomato and fennel soup

Nici Wickes shares her mum's chilled tomato and fennel soup recipe. This dish is so refreshing and light, you can see why it's a favourite in French cuisine. Serve for lunch or on a balmy evening

By Nici Wickes
  • 45 mins cooking
  • Serves 4
  • Print


  • 2 fennel bulbs, cleaned, trimmed and cut into quarters lengthwise, reserving a few fennel fronds
  • 1 heaped tsp sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon yellow mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2 large garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cracked pepper
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 500 gram tomatoes, skinned (see recipe tips)
  • crusty bread, to serve


  • 1
    Place the fennel in a saucepan with the salt and 450ml water. Bring to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes.
  • 2
    Crush the mustard and coriander seeds, either in a mortar and pestle or a food processor. Heat the oil in a large saucepan and add the crushed seeds and onion. Gently cook for 5 minutes before adding the garlic and cooking for a few more minutes.
  • 3
    Add all the other ingredients, including the water the fennel was cooked in, mix well and cook for 30 minutes, stirring now and then. When cool, purée and chill.
  • 4
    To serve, drizzle with a little olive oil and garnish with a fennel frond. Accompany with crusty bread.


  • To skin tomatoes, score a small cross on the top of each and cover with boiling water. Leave for 2-3 minutes, then remove. When cool enough to handle, the skins will slip off with ease.

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