More cold weather, more soup. I could happily live on soup – there are so many variations that each one is like having a completely different meal. From something fast to throw together after work, like Pea & Mint or super-quick Thai Noodle, all the way up to slow-cooked Oxtail & Pearl Barley or Goulash Soup with Caraway Dumplings at the more ‘hearty and cockle-warming’ end of the scale, there’s definitely a soup for every mood.
Today’s recipe is for something that sits nicely in between – warming, hearty and tasty, with the bonus of being simple to prepare and quick to cook. The blue cheese (or any type of cheese that you like) really does make things extra moreish. Robin ran amok on a Cornish cheese website a few weeks ago, and I received a surprise package of a whole wheel of Yarg and half of a wheel of Cornish Blue. We seem to have been eating it forever, but it’s still taking up half of the bottom shelf of the fridge – though there are surely worse problems in the world than too much cheese.
I’ve been trying to keep my trips to the supermarket down to a maximum of once a fortnight, so we’ve been making in-betweenie trips to the veg stall in the layby at the bottom of our drive. It is an absolute godsend at the moment, particularly as they also stock local milk, Cornish cheeses, bacon from their own outdoor-bred Mangalitsa piggies, and fantastic free-range eggs (at £3 for a tray of 36 at the moment, because apparently the chickens are laying eggs faster than people are buying them). The only slight downside is that the only broccoli on offer is what my friend Jean calls ‘trees’ – no purple-sprouting or long-stemmed options. I bought a large ‘tree’ and after trying a few florets with our Sunday roast, I decided the rest was destined for the soup pot, along with a similar-sized lump of uninspiring cauliflower (is there any other sort – isn’t that why cheese sauce was actually invented)?
If you would prefer to keep things vegan, then simply use non-dairy milk and finish the soup with some crunchy garlic croutons or salted roasted chickpeas instead of the cheese.
Broccoli, cauliflower & Cornish Blue soup
Serves 3 – 4
1 tablespoon olive oil and a knob of butter (use oil only if you prefer)
One small onion, peeled and chopped
1 leek, halved lengthways and sliced (use the good green parts too)
1 large stick of celery, chopped
Approx 250g broccoli and the same of cauliflower (no need to be exact, and you can use the stalk too, apart from any really woody bits), roughly chopped
1 medium potato, peeled and diced
500ml milk (use non-dairy if you prefer)
500ml vegetable, ham or chicken stock (a cube or stock shot is fine)
2 tablespoons double cream or double plant cream (optional)
Blue cheese, crumbled (or grated Cheddar or other tasty cheese) to finish
Heat the oil (and butter, if using) over a medium heat, and add the onions, leek and celery, along with a generous pinch of salt. Cook until softened, stirring frequently.
Add the broccoli, cauliflower and potato, and stir to coat in the oil, then pour in the milk and stock. Season with salt and pepper and a few gratings (or large pinch) of nutmeg. Bring to the boil, cover the pan with a lid, and turn the heat down so that the soup is gently simmering.
After around 20 minutes, test a piece of potato with the tip of a knife – if the potato is soft, the soup is cooked. Remove from the heat and blend with a stick blender until smooth (use a jug blender if you prefer). If the soup is very thick, just add a little more stock or some hot water from the kettle. Taste and season again if necessary (this soup needs a LOT of seasoning). Stir in the cream, if using.
Ladle into warm bowls and top with the cheese and another generous grating of nutmeg. Serve with crusty bread and eat on a tray in front of the fire.