“Cauliflower Cheese Soup” from “Jamie’s Great Britain”

Andrew (12): This smells like Thanksgiving dinner.

Maureen: You’re right. It does. It must be the sage, the thyme and the rosemary. There’s lots of that on Thanksgiving.

Andrew (surprised): Hey! Not bad! It smells like Thanksgiving dinner and it tastes like Thanksgiving dinner.

Maureen: What do you think, Tim?

Tim: I like it.

Maureen: What do you like about it?

Tim: I like that it tastes like Thanksgiving dinner.

Maureen: You are not allowed to steal Andrew’s best lines.

Tim: I like how it tastes like chicken soup.

Maureen: How do you mean?

Tim: I mean the two litres of chicken broth you put in.

Maureen: I think it’s more like eating a stuffing soup. With the slices of sourdough bread, the herbs and the chicken stock, it really tastes like stuffing. For us, it would be like Thanksgiving stuffing. But for our British friends– and in keeping with the theme of the book– it would be like Christmas stuffing soup.

Tim: I think I’d have this before Potato-Cheese Soup.

Maureen: No! Sacrilege! I’ve been making you that soup since we were engaged and living in Chicago, autumn 1994.

Tim: It’s true. If I want to do some carbo loading, this would be the perfect soup.

Maureen: This soup is a really good way to use cauliflowers, which apparently are very unappreciated. All the herbs really make the soup interesting. Just cauliflowers on their own wouldn’t be anything to write about. Literally.

Maureen: You can’t even taste the secret ingredient: Gentleman’s Relish. I had to go to four stores to find it. Does anyone want to guess what it is?

Andrew: Relish?

Maureen: No. Dad took one look at it and thought it was mold. To be fair, it does sort of look like it.

Andrew: Onions?

Maureen: Nope. It’s anchovy paste, and a classic British ingredient. It probably does add something, but luckily, it’s not at all noticeable. Would you like me to make it again?

Andrew: Yes.

Tim: Yes, definitely.

Maureen: This is a good stodgy soup as we enter the autumn. I can see this becoming a regular rotation meal for soup season.

Cook’s notes: This makes a very large pot of soup. We it says it serves eight people, believe it. After cooking the cauliflower, you have to then decant the soup into another pot because you’re layering it between bits of sourdough bread and stilton cheese. This step makes it seem more like a British version of French onion soup, so well worth doing. (We had a bit of a marital discussion over whether or not I should bother with the step. I’m glad I didn’t listen and did it anyway. It made it much better). Again, with the cooking times, I’m not sure the last step of 25 minutes is needed. After 15 minutes, ours was bubbly and golden, which was what we were after, so I took it out. If you are going to follow the timings to the letter, allow a lot of time. This soup would take 1 hour, 20 minutes, if you do.

The Same, But Different: Cauliflower doesn’t feature prominently in Jamie Oliver’s books, though his “Cauliflower Macaroni” from “30-Minute Meals” seems to be popular. He has Cauliflower Cheese Soup in “Jamie’s Ministry of Food,” but that one is a more standard recipe, where you cook the cauliflower in chicken stock, liquidize it and then add cheddar cheese, which then melts into the soup. This version is much, much better, and to his credit, much different than the other one. 

This extra step of toasting the bread, layering it in the soup, and adding Stilton was well worth doing.

“Cauliflower Cheese Soup” from “Jamie’s Great Britain”

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