2 teaspoons fennel seeds
4 tablespoons butter, or less, if desired
1 small yellow onion, peeled and chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1 cup kumquats, unpeeled and chopped, plus slices for garnish
2 pounds carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
5 cups vegetable or chicken broth
Salt and pepper, to taste

In a small frying pan, toast the fennel seeds over medium heat just until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a grinder and grind finely.

In a large, heavy pot, melt the butter. Saute the onion and garlic until translucent, for about 5 minutes.

Add the kumquats and carrots and saute 10 minutes. Add the broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered, until carrots and kumquats are very soft, 35 to 40 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool slightly.

Working in batches, puree soup in a blender. Return to pot and stir in ground fennel. Season with the salt and pepper and serve, garnished with kumquat slices.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

— Recipe from Kate McMillan, author of "Williams-Sonoma Soup of the Day" (Weldon Owen, 304 pages, $34.95).