Fruit soups offer their fragrant, bright tang at special seasons. During the height of summer, for a week or two, one thinks Hungarian sour cherry soup. Late autumn, itís the perfume of quince that makes one salivate. Fresh, unblemished specimens beckon at farmersí markets right now.
Remove the core, leaf nubs, and seeds from a quince. No need to peel if itís fresh and fine. Chop the quince, half a fennel bulb, a large shallot, and a rib of celery (for depth) into a quarter inch dice. Place the vegetables in a saucepan with 3 cups of rich chicken broth, some sea salt and a little crushed white pepper. Simmer together for about 20 minutes, until soft and fragrant. Fuse the ingredients somewhat with a potato masher. A certain lumpiness imparts homey pleasure. Of course if that doesnít suit you, press the mixture through a food mill or whirl it in a food processor. Serve with a soup spoon or two of yoghurt mixed into each bowl, a tad of Dijon mustard, and a tiny frond of fennel leaf as décor.
This version emerges quite thick, almost like a succulent porridge. If you prefer a more soup-like outcome, add broth. It tastes equally good served hot, or lukewarm for lunch.
Serves 3 thick, 4 if lengthened with an additional cup of broth.