Autumn mist sweeps ghostly through the trees. Leaves are dropping in carpets of gold and russet – I think we’ve got them all in our garden, surrounded as we are by woodland! I’ve said before that I like to do a little baking as relaxation and comfort while I’m working on a novel. It gives me thinking time while I enjoy the gentleness of mixing and rolling, whisking and decorating.
My country kitchen baking tends to be seasonal. I like to use the ingredients that are fresh that month or that strike me as a reflection of the ‘feel’ of the season. In autumn it’s a nourishing hot cauliflower and stilton soup, in winter maybe it’s chewy ginger flapjacks, in Spring it might be almond macaroons, in summer chocolate fudge cake. I thought you might like some recipes (from my book The Old Rectory: escape to a country kitchen), so here goes with the first and I’ll add the rest in the due season!
As it’s autumn, here’s my cauliflower and stilton soup – a lovely heady rich taste with the deepness of the stilton. Come home from a chilly walk to this nourishing soup. You can make it ahead and freeze; it keeps well. Of course, if you’ve got an electric soup-maker, it’s even easier!
Cauliflower and Stilton Soup
1 small cauliflower, broken into florets, or leftover cooked cauliflower florets, even leftover cooked cauliflower cheese
Vegetable stock, if desired
1 small onion, chopped finely
100 g. (4 oz.) Stilton cheese, plus a little extra for crumbling on top
450 ml. (0.75UK pint) milk
50 g. (2 oz.) butter
50 g. (2 oz.) flour
Boil the cauliflower florets in a pan of water or vegetable stock until very soft, and lightly sauté the onion in a frying pan until transparent. Drain the cauliflower, reserving the water/stock. Crumble in the Stilton and purée all together in a blender with a little of the stock from the cauliflower pan. Make béchamel sauce by melting the butter in a pan, then adding the flour slowly, mixing thoroughly, then adding the milk slowly until smooth. Add the puréed cauliflower mixture, stirring as you blend, and slowly add the stock. Alternatively, add the sauce to the blender if it is large enough and whiz briefly to blend. Add more milk if you want to adjust the thickness of the soup.
Crumble a little Stilton on top of each serving bowl. You can also drizzle a little fresh cream on the top. You can adjust the amount of cauliflower and Stilton to taste; it’s a matter of trial and error. Enjoy!