1 large cauliflower, about 900g. / 2lbs., broken into small florets
600mls. / 1 pint semi-skimmed milk
150mls. / 5 fl. ozs. vegetable stock
1 bay leaf
2 tsps. sunflower oil
100g. / 3 ½ ozs. mature cheddar cheese, grated
salt and pepper
chopped flat-leaf parsley to garnish
Melt the butter in a large saucepan. Add the onion and cook over a moderate heat for 3 minutes, stirring frequently, until soft. Sprinkle over the mustard and stir it in.
Reserve about 85g. / 3ozs. of the cauliflower florets; add the rest to the saucepan together with the milk, stock and bay leaf. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes or until the cauliflower is tender.
Meanwhile, heat the oil in a non-stick frying pan. Break the reserved cauliflower into tiny florets and fry for 4 – 5 minutes or until lightly browned, stirring frequently. Set aside.
Remove the bay leaf from the soup. Puree in the pan with a hand-held blender, or in a blender or food processor. Season with salt and pepper to taste, then reheat until just bubbling.
Remove from the heat, add the grated cheese and stir until melted. Ladle into 4 warmed soup bowls and sprinkle with the sautéed cauliflower florets and parsley. Serve immediately.
Some more ideas: Use all the cauliflower in the soup. For the garnish, mix together 4 tbsps. plain low-fat yogurt and 2 tbsps. chopped parsley or snipped fresh chives. Swirl a spoonful of this herb yogurt on top of each bowl of soup. For a spiced parsnip and cheese soup to serve 6, soften 1 finely chopped onion in 15g. / ½ oz. butter. Stir in 550g. / 1 ¼ lbs. finely diced parsnips, 1 tsp. cumin seeds and ½ tsp. gd. coriander. Cook for 2 minutes then add 600mls. / 1 pint semi-skimmed milk, 450mls. / 15 fl. ozs. vegetable stock and a bay leaf. Bring to the boil, then cover and simmer for 10 minutes or until the parsnips are tender. Remove the bay leaf and puree the soup. Reheat until piping hot. Sprinkle with 115g. / 4ozs. Red Leicester or Double Gloucester cheese. Garnish with a few torn coriander leaves.