I tried this for the first time, one lunchtime at the Green Man Pub in Harrods (though I have to admit, since then I prefer the one at the Edinburgh restaurant of Harvey Nichols which has a wonderful kitchen department). It was on one of those freezing days in London when your Mediterranean blood yearns to spend some time in the warmth, either at an exhibition or – the perfect alibi – shopping. Needless to say, the next port of call, after tasting this soup, was the book department – the cookery section!
The most interesting thing about this soup is the inclusion of Stilton – the famous creamy English cheese with the protected name, which means it is produced exclusively using local pasteurised milk from only three counties – Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire. It is strained into a cylindrical mould without being pressed, matures and forms a distinctive crust (the cheese is “ironed” and strained after about 9 weeks) and forms its characteristic blue veins which radiate from the centre of the cheese.
There are many different recipes for soups containing Stilton, which is traditionally served as a whole head of cheese on the English Christmas table. I love this soup which combines it with leeks and I make it regularly, as besides being delicious, it’s also incredibly easy to make and the perfect winter soup …try it and thank me later!
Preparation: The soup can be made earlier in the day and reheated gently before serving. If done at the last minute, the whole recipe takes about 30 minutes.
Ingredients (serve 4-6)
25 g butter
3 medium leeks, peeled and sliced
2 potatoes ( about 220 g) peeled, and thickly sliced
2 rashers bacon (according to preference)
1.2 lt vegetable stock
2 bay leaves
100 ml fresh cream (double or single)
100 g Stilton grated
Black and white pepper
Making: Heat the butter in a saucepan and add the leeks (and bacon, if included). Sauté on a medium heat for 4-5 minutes until soft (but before they start to brown). Add the potatoes and sauté for another minute before adding the vegetable stock and bay leaves. Turn up the heat until it comes to the boil, then lower heat, add the salt and white pepper and cook with the lid on for 15-18 minutes or until the potatoes are soft. Remove from heat.
Pour in the cream and add the Stilton to the hot soup and remove the bay leaves (and the bacon, if you have used it). Wait 2-3 minutes before pulsing with a hand-held blender. Taste and add salt and pepper to taste.
Note: If you don’t have a hand-held blender, you can use a regular blender, pouring the soup in one small amount after another. To avoid mishaps, allow the soup to cool for another 5 minutes.
Serving: Ladle the soup into warm soup dishes or bowls and garnish with grated Stilton and black pepper.
Translated by Sophie Athanasiadis