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Sybaritic Fennel Soup

Delicate and delicately aromatic, this is a honey of a soup for two. Ancient Egyptians prescribed it as an aphrodisiac. Ancient Hindus ordered up fennel soup to stimulate desire. Ancient Greeks wore crowns of it at Dionysian rites and regarded it as a potent sexual stimulant. It's that seductive licorice oil, I think--the very one that made "likerish" mean first "pleasing to taste" then "lustful and lecherous" in Middle English. Serve hot to two as first course to a long, loving, and leisurely meal.

Garnish: finely minced fennel fronds

In a medium saucepan, bring the wine to a boil, scrape in the fennel pieces and the chicken bouillon cube (or chicken base). Lower heat, cover, and simmer until the fennel is tender, about 10 minutes. Puree, solids first. If you want a very smooth soup, press the puree through a sieve. Return to the saucepan, heat, and stir in the cream. Let simmer for a few minutes. Finely grind white pepper over the soup and whisk in. Taste to see if it needs any salt.

When ready to serve, ladle into two small bowls and sprinkle with the finely minced fennel fronds. Serve immediately.