Hot news – it’s snowing. That may not be exciting to those of you who live in northern climes, but this is only the third time we’ve seen snow here in 13 years – one of those being just a couple of weeks ago. It isn’t going to settle, but it’s enough to provide us with the amusing spectacle of Toast and Marmalade chasing the flakes as they blow around.
It is definitely sitting-by-the-fire weather. Our trusty stove chunters on throughout the night if we feed it enough before we go to bed – this morning, the living room was warm and toasty, and it only took a couple of sticks and a new log to send it bursting back into action. We had planned a long walk today, but Linda is coming up here to eat her portion of the packed lunch I’d made for us all, in the warm in the kitchen, instead of sitting on a cold rock in the wind!
Yesterday, wanting something warming for supper on a diet day, but not having the inclination to go shopping, it was a case of seeing what was in the fridge that could be thrown into a soup pot. The answer was half of a head of cauliflower, which was just starting to look slightly past its best, and a couple of leeks. Stock from the freezer, a couple of potatoes and an onion, and we were good to go.
Now, if we were not following a vegan diet at the moment, this would definitely be enhanced by a generous handful of crumbled Stilton or some strong cheddar grated over it, though it was still completely delicious and satisfying without it. If you prefer your soup to have a chunky texture, scoop some out just before you liquidise it, then put it back in at the end.
The quantities I have given are just a guide – use up whatever you have in the fridge, there is no need to be exact. If you don’t have leeks, add an extra onion. A couple of sticks of finely-diced celery would also be good, but I didn’t think of it until we’d eaten the soup!
Creamy cauliflower & leek soup
1 medium onion, diced
2 leeks, trimmed, halved lengthways and then sliced
2 medium potatoes (mine weighed about 400g total), peeled and diced
About half of a head of a medium cauliflower
600ml vegetable stock (a cube is fine)
400ml of almond, oat or soya milk (or use normal milk if you wish)
A generous handful of parsley, stalks and leaves separated, and chopped
A good pinch of nutmeg
Heat the oil in a large saucepan and add the onion and leeks. Cook over a medium heat for a few minutes until they have softened and are turning a golden brown.
Stir in the diced potatoes, then add the almond or other milk and the stock. While it comes to a simmer, chop the parsley stalks finely and add those to the pot, then wash the cauliflower and cut it into small pieces – use as much of the stalk as you like, though you might want to discard the really tough parts near the root. (Tip from someone who spent ages picking tiny pieces of cauliflower out of her sieve last night – wash the cauliflower while it is still in one piece before you start chopping it). Add the cauliflower pieces to the pan, season with the nutmeg and salt and pepper, cover and cook over a low heat for about 20 minutes.
Remove the pan from the heat and blend the soup with a stick blender (or in a jug blender if you prefer). Check the seasoning and stir in the chopped parsley leaves. Serve with plenty of crusty bread for dunking purposes.