Cauliflower Cheese Soup

The combination of cauliflower and cheese is a classic partnership. You can use a strong cheese like Cheddar or Lancashire or even add a few nuggets of blue cheese at the end. You can also make this with leftover cauliflower cheese and just add a bit of extra milk and stock.

1 medium onion, peeled and roughly chopped
1 leek, white part only, roughly chopped
2-3 good knobs of butter
1 medium-sized cauliflower, roughly chopped, with the dark outer leaves removed
750ml vegetable stock (or a good cube)
500ml milk
salt and freshly ground white pepper
120g grated mature Cheddar cheese
2 slices of bread, crusts removed and cut into rough 1cm dice
2 tbsp olive oil

Melt the butter in a pan and with the lid on gently cook the onion and leek, without colouring, for 4-5 minutes, until they are soft.

Add the cauliflower, stock and milk. Season, bring to the boil and simmer for 35 minutes, with a lid on, or until the cauliflower is soft.

Blend in a liquidiser with two-thirds of the cheese until smooth and strain through a fine-meshed sieve and season again if necessary. You can add a little more cheese for added flavour if you wish.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a heavy-based frying pan and cook the croutons on a medium heat for 3-4 minutes, turning every so often until golden.

Transfer to some kitchen paper, season and mix the rest of the cheese with them while they are still hot. Scatter the croutons over the soup and serve.

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