I do love cold weather, or at least I do love it when it’s still a novelty, when all the fabulous autumn ingredients fill my head with possible recipes. I love the abundance of different squash, cabbages and apples, I love making stews and cakes and I love that one of the cheapest and quickest dishes in the world, soup, suddenly seems desirable.
In the last week or two I have made my first soup of the winter, a variation of Nigel Slater’s cauliflower cheese one, using romanesco rather than cauliflower. With cheese, mustard, cream and bread, this has, as Mr Slater says, ‘something of the Welsh rarebit’ about it. I like to think of it as Ready Brek for adults; highly recommended and incredibly comforting. Oh and, you know, I just reached 1000 followers…
Romanesco and cheese soup (adapted from Tender Vol 1)
Makes enough for 4
Cupboard (or things you may already have)
garlic cloves, 2
bay leaves, 2
grain mustard, 1 heaped tbsp
romanesco, one medium-sized head
Gruyère or cheddar, 120g plus another tablespoon or so
crème fraîche, 200ml
rye bread, 2 slices (if you can’t get rye, use a good sourdough, something with a bit of a tang)
1. Peel, trim and roughly chop the onion. Peel and crush the garlic.
2. Trim the romanesco if necessary, break into florets (or fractals, possibly…), then steam until soft (about 5-7 minutes, depending on the size of the florets).
3. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large, lidded saucepan, add the onion and garlic and cook until soft but don’t let them colour.
4. Add the bay leaves to the onion with the cooked romanesco and enough boiling water to cover (Nigel boils his cauliflower in 850ml of water then uses this as his ‘stock’; I found 850ml too much so I’d err on the side of less). Bring to the boil, season, cover and simmer for about 15 minutes until the vegetables are soft.
5. Whilst the soup is cooking grate the cheese.
6. Once the vegetables are cooked, remove the pan from the heat, discard the bay leaves then blend until smooth. Add a little more boiling water at this stage if the soup is too thick for you.
7. Stir in the crème fraîche, grain mustard and all but the last tablespoon or so of grated cheese. Bring the soup back to a simmer and season to taste.
8. When ready to serve, toast the bread, cover with the remaining grated cheese and grill until the cheese is melted and bubbling. Cut the cheese toast into triangles, put a couple on top of each bowl of soup and serve.
I’ve seen Romanesco on sale in Brixton and wondered what to do with these Extra-terrestrial Caulis. Today looks like just the time to try this