Cauliflower Cheese Soup With Sage and Chestnuts

Time for another comforting winter soup. I love cauliflower cheese so this soup was sure to please. As chestnuts were also in season and getting ready to be roasted on a humble fire, I thought I’d save them the pain. As they were screaming naughtily at me to eat them, I topped my soup with their creamy, crumbled texture and some crispy sage leaves for some delicate crunch.

  • 1 large cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • Large knob of butter
  • 1 garlic clove sliced
  • small bunch of sage leaves, picked
  • 700ml hot stock
  • Salt and pepper
  • 100g or so of strong mature cheddar cheese, grated
  • Sage leaves to fry
  • Olive oil
  • Chestnuts
  1. Begin by getting the chestnuts on to boil. Pop them straight in, they should take about 15 minutes to soften. After this, drain and allow to cool. You can score the top with a cross to make them easier to peel if you like. Once soft, drain and set aside to cool.
  2. Melt the butter with a splash of oil in a pan. Once hot, soften the onion for about 5 minutes until translucent. Add the sage leaves and the garlic and fry for a couple of minutes.
  3. Add the cauliflower florets and stir to coat in the onion. Season.
  4. Add the hot stock and bring to the boil. Simmer for about 10 minutes until the cauliflower is really soft when pierced with a knife.
  5. Remove from the heat and blend with a hand blender.
  6. Add a spoonful of creme fraiche or replace some of the stock for milk for a creamier texture if you like. Add the cheese.
  7. Replace back on the heat on low and stir until the cheese had melted. Season to taste
  8. Now heat a thin layer of oil in a frying pan until really hot. Lightly fry the sage leaves until crispy and drain on kitchen paper. Season with a scatter of salt. This oil can now be kept and used as ‘sage-scented oil’ to top your soup or for other recipes and dressings.
  9. Serve the soup topped with crumbled chestnuts, crispy sage leaves and a drizzle of the fragrant oil!