Two beautiful little snowy cauliflowers appeared in my farmbox this week. Plus, I had been to the supermarket and splurged on a small piece of Maytag blue cheese. There I also lucked out with some gorgeous Bartlett pears that are so perfectly delicious that they had to be preserved for the semi-posterity of my pantry. The diced pears are resting overnight in the fridge in a bowl with sugar, spices and balsamic vinegar, to be turned, eventually, into a jam (about which, more later). There has also been a pear and frangipane tart for my Friday night dinner friends. But there is still one pear, and the last of the homemade chicken broth.
This soup is based on a remembered cauliflower and stilton soup I had in a wine bar/restaurant while visiting relatives in Brighton in the U.K. I do not remember the name of the place. I do remember that the soup was followed by a fish pie, which I also would love to replicate. I was crazy about the soup, and it occured to me at the time that it would be nice to gild the lily and garnish it with diced pears. Pear and stilton is a combination so perfect that it could make you cry, if you were that sort of person.
Prior to the death of my Uncle Ted, Santa Claus used to deliver a big posh Fortnum and Mason stonewear crock with a stilton cheese inside to my parents each Christmas. I haven't really had any appreciable quantity since-speaking of weeping. But there's nothing wrong with Maytag Blue and pears either, and I was happy to eat my version of this remembered soup for my supper.
If you'd like to try it, this is what you will need:
1 leek, cleaned carefully, and chopped
a bit of butter
1 large or 2 small cauliflower cut into chunks
1 large baked potato, skinned (cook gets to munch on skin)
1 qt homemade very rich chicken or turkey broth or vegetable broth if you do not eat meat
freshly grated nutmeg
tiny pinch red pepper flakes
1 cup blue cheese, or stilton, or gorgonzola
1 very ripe pear
In a heavy 2-4 qt pot, sweat the leek gently in some butter. Add everything except the cheese and pear. Bring to a boil, and then turn down to a simmer. Cook until the cauliflower is tender. Puree. (Easiest with immersion blender.) Crumble cheese and cook until just melted and combined. Remove from heat. The soup can hold this way for hours. Just before serving, reheat gently. Cut the pear into tiny cubes, and scatter a few on each bowl of soup.
Caution: Do not serve this to children. They will think you are insane if you expect them to eat this. Even the most adventurous chilren hate stinky cheese, and you will risk making them think they hate cauliflower too. They do not. They generally love cauliflower cheese made with a mild cheddar and baked until bubbly and brown.
By the way, you see pictured my new little black Staub 2 qt cocotte. So cute. These are, of course, terribly expensive pots, but they seem to be running a sale now everywhere on the little 2 qt. ones, presumably to suck you in. It worked. They are like le creuset ones, only better, because somewhat lighter, and matte black inside, taking high heat very well. Also, I think they are very elegant, with their shiny knobs. I now long desperately for a larger companion pot. My excuse for buying the little pot was one I learned reading other food blogs. It is "a gift for my blog." Selfless, no?