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
- 1Preheat oven to 180C. Drizzle garlic heads with a little oil then wrap in foil and roast until very soft (45-55 minutes). Set aside.
- 2Heat 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.
- 3Heat 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.