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  • 1 brown onion, diced
  • 1 stick celery, diced
  • 1 leek, diced
  • 3 medium potatoes, diced
  • 2 tbs 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 tbs water
  • salt flakes and black pepper
  • 4 baby beetroot, peeled
  • vegetable oil, for deep-frying
  • Herb salt
  • 1 bunch chives, snipped
  • Crusty bread and crème fraîche, to serve


  1. Sauté the onion, celery, half the leek and one potato in the butter in a large saucepan over a moderate heat for five minutes, until just softened, but not coloured. Add the garlic, bay leaves and fennel seeds and cook for two more minutes. Add half the cauliflower, stock, cream and saffron, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes, until the cauliflower is tender.
  2. Purée with a KitchenAid Hand Blender, then season with salt and pepper and set aside. Boil the remaining cauliflower and potato until just tender, drain well, then add to the soup. Season with salt and pepper. Slice the beetroot very finely, then pat dry with kitchen paper. Fry in hot (180C) vegetable oil for 2 minutes, until crispy, then drain on kitchen paper. Dust with herb salt (see tip below).
  3. Serve the soup scattered with chives with a stack of beetroot chips, crusty bread and a dollop of crème fraîche.


Make your own herb salt by pounding together 1 bunch sage, ¼ bunch thyme and ¼ cup rock salt in a mortar until fine. Dry slowly, then store in an air-tight container for up to 1 month.


This recipe first featured in Flavour The Peter McInnes Magazine, Autumn 2013.