Roast garlic, cheddar and ale soup with fried cauliflower


  • Serves 4 - 6 people

Something like a wholemeal walnut loaf would be perfect for mopping up the last mouthfuls of this rich, savoury soup.

  • 2 heads garlic, whole, plus 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
  • 20 gm butter, diced
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 leek (white part only), thinly sliced
  • 600 ml chicken stock
  • 150 ml pale ale
  • 4 thyme sprigs, plus 1 tbsp thyme
  • 500 gm cauliflower, broken into florets
  • 200 ml milk
  • 150 ml pouring cream
  • 150 gm aged cheddar, coarsely grated
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • For shallow-frying: vegetable oil
  • ½ tsp smoked paprika
  • Finely grated rind of 1 lemon
01   Preheat oven to 180C. Drizzle garlic heads with a little oil then wrap in foil and roast until very soft (45-55 minutes). Set aside.
02   Heat olive oil and butter in a saucepan over medium heat, add onion, leek and chopped garlic and sauté until tender (10-12 minutes). Add stock, ale, thyme sprigs and 350gm cauliflower, cover and simmer until very tender (20-25 minutes). Remove lid, squeeze roast garlic cloves into soup, add milk and simmer until thick (8-10 minutes). Blend with a hand-held blender, add cream, cheddar and mustard, and stir until cheese melts (1-2 minutes). Season to taste and keep warm.
03   Heat 1.5cm vegetable oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat and shallow-fry remaining cauliflower in batches, turning, until golden all over (1-2 minutes). Drain on paper towels, then transfer to a bowl and scatter with thyme, paprika and lemon rind, season to taste and toss to combine. Serve soup scattered with fried cauliflower mixture.
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