Heat the butter in medium pan until
just starting to sizzle. Cook the onion
over a very low heat with the thyme
and bay for 15-20 mins until soft and
just lightly golden. Pour the milk into
the pan, add the star anise and ground
cloves, season and bring to the boil.
Turn off the heat and leave to infuse
for at least 10 mins. Can be done
the night before.
Remove the star anise and bay, and
add the bread chunks to the pan. Bring
back to the boil, then remove from the
heat and blitz using a hand blender.
Return to the heat, stir in the crème
fraîche and simmer gently for 2 mins
until thickened. Can be made ahead
and reheated with a splash more milk.
Tip into a bowl, sprinkle with cracked
pepper, and add the bay leaf, if you like.