Roast Swede Soup with Barkham Blue Croutons

Roast Swede Soup with Barkham Blue Croutons
Serves 4
A great winter warmer soup – and thoroughly British – OK with a nod to the French for the bread!
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Ingredients
  1. 1 swede, peeled and cut into 2.5cm/ 1 inch cubes
  2. 3 tbsp olive oil
  3. 1 onion, finely chopped
  4. 2 carrots, finely chopped
  5. 2 celery stalks, finely chopped
  6. 1 garlic clove, crushed
  7. 1 tsp chopped fresh thyme
  8. 1.2 litres (2 pints) vegetable stock
  9. 150 ml (1/4 pint) single cream
  10. FOR THE CROUTONS
  11. 4 slices French bread
  12. 175 g (6 oz) ripe Barkham Blue cheese, sliced
  13. salt and freshly ground black pepper
  14. Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas 6.
Instructions
  1. Place the swede into a roasting tray and drizzle over two tablespoons of the olive oil. Season generously and roast for 25–30 minutes until golden brown and tender, shaking the tin occasionally to ensure even cooking.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil in a large heavy-based pan and add the onion, carrots, celery, garlic and thyme. Stir well to combine and then fry for 4–5 minutes until softened but not browned, stirring occasionally.
  3. Add the roasted swede to the pan and then pour in the stock. Bring gently to the boil, then reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 25–30 minutes until completely tender, stirring occasionally. Purée the soup in a food processor or with a hand blender until completely smooth. Pass through a sieve for an extra fine texture if preferred.
  4. Preheat the grill. Arrange the French bread on a grill rack and toast until lightly golden on both sides. Cover each with the Barkham blue cheese and return to the grill for a minute or so until just melted.
  5. Meanwhile, transfer the soup to a clean pan and stir in the cream. Gently heat through and season to taste. Divide among warmed bowls and top each one with a Barkham Blue crouton to serve.
  6. This soup freezes brilliantly so can be made well in advance and thawed out when needed.
Notes
  1. I’m a great fan of Barkham Blue cheese which regularly appears on the menus at my two local restaurants The Greyhound near Henley on Thames, and Windsor Grill. A rich, blue cheese which is traditionally made – and one which is so versatile. I do care Two Hoots about my cheese. Delighted to give you two recipes to enjoy. Antony Worrall Thompson MOGB awtrestaurants.com awtonline.co.uk
Two Hoots Cheese http://twohootscheese.co.uk/