Serves 4-6

The Italians are good at matching different flavours, other than simply cheese, to cauliflower and broccoli. Here the sweetness of the raisins and that little unexpected texture of barley works really well, transforming what could be an un-interesting soup into something quite special. Like the classic pasta dish from Puglia with broccoli, raisins and anchovies, the sugariness of the raisins here gives a suprisingly delicious sweet and sour flavour. If you can't find faro, which is similar to ours, then good old pearl barley will be fine. A spoonful of pesto can be dropped into the soup when served to add a dash of colour if you wish.

The Italians are good at matching different flavours, other than simply cheese, to cauliflower and broccoli. Here the sweetness of the raisins and that little unexpected texture of barley works really well, transforming what could be an un-interesting soup into something quite special. Like the classic pasta dish from Puglia with broccoli, raisins and anchovies, the sugariness of the raisins here gives a suprisingly delicious sweet and sour flavour. If you can't find faro, which is similar to ours, then good old pearl barley will be fine. A spoonful of pesto can be dropped into the soup when served to add a dash of colour if you wish.

1 medium onion, roughly chopped
1 leek, white only, roughly chopped
A good knob of butter
1 small- to medium-sized cauliflower, roughly chopped, with the dark outer leaves cut off
750ml vegetable stock (a good cube will do)
500ml milk
Salt and freshly ground white pepper
3tbsp faro (Italian barley), soaked in cold water for 3-4 hours and simmered in salted water until tender
3tbsp raisins, soaked in hot water overnight
1-2tbsp freshly grated Parmesan

Melt the butter in a pan and with the lid on gently cook the onion and leek, without colouring, for 6-7 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 the Parmesan until smooth and strain through a fine meshed sieve. Add the raisins, and any soaking liquid, and the barley, bring back to the boil and season again if necessary. You can add a little more Parmesan for added savouriness if you wish, or the pesto.

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