The sweet start and peppery finish of this soup make it a refreshing first course of an alfresco summer meal. A small amount of half-and-half adds body and rich flavor to this smooth, creamy soup.
1. Melt butter in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add sliced fennel and onion, and sauté 9 minutes or until lightly browned. Add wine, chicken broth, and soup base, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer, uncovered, 30 minutes or until fennel is very tender. Remove from heat; cool 10 minutes.
2. Place half of fennel mixture in a blender or food processor; process until very smooth. Pour puréed soup into a large bowl; repeat procedure with remaining half of fennel mixture. Stir in half-and-half and pepper. Cover and refrigerate at least 3 hours or until thoroughly chilled. Ladle soup into individual bowls. Garnish with fennel fronds, if desired.