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Cauliflower and Lancashire cheese soup

Serves 4-6

A creamy cauliflower soup makes a great winter warmer and a strongly flavoured, crumbly white cheese, such as a Lancashire, gives it that nice savoury finishing edge. I've added some crispy croutons here to give extra texture to this silky-smooth soup.

1 medium onion, roughly chopped
1 leek, white part only, roughly chopped
2-3 good knobs of butter
1 small- to medium-sized cauliflower, roughly chopped, with the dark outer leaves cut off (keep them for the bratwurst recipe, below)
750ml vegetable stock (a good cube will do)
500ml milk
Salt and freshly ground white pepper
3-4tbsp grated Lancashire cheese
2 slices of bread, crusts removed and cut into rough 1 cm dice
2tbsp olive oil

Melt the butter in a pan and with the lid on gently cook the onion and leek, without colouring, for 4-5 minutes, until they are soft. Add the cauliflower, stock and milk. Season, bring to the boil and simmer for 35 minutes, with a lid on, or until the cauliflower is soft.

Blend in a liquidiser with 3 tablespoons of the Lancashire until smooth and strain through a fine-meshed sieve and season again if necessary. You can add a little more cheese for added savouriness if you wish.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a heavy-based frying pan and cook the croutons on a medium heat for 3-4 minutes, turning every so often until golden. Transfer to some kitchen paper, season and toss the rest of the cheese with them while they are still hot.