Cauliflower and Truffle Soup with Parmesan Crisps

I don’t usually go in for cream soups, though there’s actually very little cream in this one and it feeds a lot of people. Either way, this soup is delicious and that’s justification enough. It makes a wonderful starter for a celebration meal, or a cosy lunch after a bracing country walk.

Feeds 6 – 8

Ingredients

Knob of butter

Olive oil

2 cups chopped onions

1 large head of cauliflower (or two small heads), florets separated and stalk sliced

1 cup peeled and chopped potato

4 cloves garlic, sliced

¼ cup dry white wine

1L low-sodium chicken stock

250ml milk

¼ cup double cream

Salt and pepper

To serve: truffle oil and parmesan crisps (recipe below)

Method:

In a large pot, heat the butter and a lug of olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions with a pinch of salt and pepper and cook for about 5 minutes. Add the chopped cauliflower, potato and garlic and cook for another 5 – 7 minutes, until the vegetables begin to soften (but not brown).

Add the wine and let it cook away for a minute. Then add the chicken stock and bring to a simmer. With the lid on, simmer the soup until the vegetables are very tender (about 10 – 15 minutes). Add the milk, then use a stick blender to blend the soup until very smooth. Add the cream, then taste and adjust for salt and pepper. If the soup is looking a little thick, let it down with a splash of milk, stock or water.

Make ahead: Before you add the milk and cream, blend the soup while it’s hot. It will be very thick at this stage. Cool down completely, then reheat when needed. Add the milk and cream just before serving, ensuring the soup is nice and hot at the end. Don’t forget to check the seasoning.

To serve, drizzle over a few drops of truffle oil in each bowl, using the end of a spoon to swirl the oil around a little bit. Pop a parmesan crisp in the centre of the bowl and serve.

To make the parmesan crisps, place piles of 1 tbsp finely grated parmesan cheese on some parchment paper, leaving space between the piles to allow them to spread out. Press the piles out a little bit so you have a fairly flat pile, then bake at 400F / 200C / 180C Fan for 4 – 5 minutes. While still warm, pry the crisps off the parchment so they don’t get stuck. If you like, you can hang them off the handle of a wooden spoon to create a folded shape, but they’re lovely flat as well.

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