Something like a wholemeal walnut loaf would be perfect for
mopping up the last mouthfuls of this rich, savoury soup.
2 headsgarlic, whole, plus 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped2 tbspolive oil, plus extra for drizzling20 gmbutter, diced1onion, finely chopped1leek (white part only), thinly sliced600 mlchicken stock150 mlpale ale4thyme sprigs, plus 1 tbsp thyme500 gmcauliflower, broken into florets200 mlmilk150 mlpouring cream150 gmaged cheddar, coarsely grated1 tspDijon mustardFor shallow-frying:vegetable oil½ tspsmoked paprikaFinelygrated rind of 1 lemon
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.
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.
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.