Creamy saffron-cauliflower soup

Serves 4 people

Just because it's dark and chilly doesn't mean that you have to go without colour on the table. This brilliantly yellow soup is packed with flavour and perfect for a cold night. plus, it's full of seasonal veg to help keep you in peak condition.

Ingredients
  • 1 brown onion, diced
  • 1 stick celery, diced
  • 1 leek, diced
  • 3 medium potatoes, diced
  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 head cauliflower, finely chopped
  • 2L chicken stock
  • 200ml cream
  • ½g saffron threads, soaked in 1 Tbsp water
  • salt flakes and freshly-milled black pepper
  • 4 baby beetroot, peeled
  • vegetable oil, for deep-frying
  • 1 bunch chives, snipped
  • herb salt, crusty bread and créme fraîche, to serve
Instructions

1 Sauté the onion, celery, half the leek and one potato in butter in a large saucepan over a moderate heat for 5 minutes, until just softened, but not coloured. Add the garlic, bay leaves and fennel seeds and cook for 2 more minutes.

2 Add half the cauliflower, stock, cream and saffron, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes, until the cauliflower is tender. Purée with a stick blender, then season with salt and pepper and set aside.

3 Boil the remaining cauliflower and potato until just tender, drain well, then add to the soup. Season with salt and pepper.

4 Slice the beetroot very finely on a mandoline, then pat dry with kitchen paper. Fry in hot (180°C) vegetable oil for 2 minutes, until crispy, then drain on kitchen paper. Dust with herb salt*.

5 Serve the soup scattered with chives with a stack of beetroot chips, crusty bread and crème fraîche.

* Make your own herb salt by pounding 1 bunch sage, ¼ bunch thyme and ¼ cup rock salt in a mortar until fine. Dry slowly, then store airtight.