This recipe is taken from Delia Smith’s Christmas, The Delia Collection: Soup and Delia's Vegetarian Collection.
| 4 oz (110 g) Stilton, grated|
| 2 oz (50 g) butter|
| 1 onion, finely chopped|
| 1 leek, cleaned and chopped|
| 1 large potato, diced small|
| 1 heaped tablespoon plain flour|
| 5 fl oz (150 ml) dry cider|
| 1 pint (570 ml) Chicken Giblet Stock (See related recipe below)|
| 10 fl oz (275 ml) milk|
| 1 tablespoon double cream|
| salt and freshly milled black pepper|
|For the croutons: |
| 4 level dessertspoons freshly grated Parmesan (Parmigiano Reggiano) See recipe introduction|
| 8 oz (225 g) stale bread, cut into small cubes|
| 4 tablespoons oil|
Start off by melting the butter in a thick-based saucepan, then add the prepared vegetables and some salt, and cook gently with the lid on for 5-10 minutes to draw out the juices.
Next stir in the flour to absorb the juices and, when smooth, gradually pour in the cider – still stirring. Now add the chicken stock, cover the pan and simmer gently for 30 minutes. After that, add the milk and Stilton and re-heat, stirring, until the cheese has melted and the soup is just below boiling point. Taste and season with salt and pepper, then stir in the cream.
At this stage you can purée the soup in a food processor or else press it through a sieve; or, if you prefer the texture of the chopped vegetables, keep it as it is.
Serve the soup with the Parmesan croutons.
For the croutons, pre-heat the oven to gas mark 4, 350°F (180°C), or pre-heat the grill. Place the bread cubes in a bowl, sprinkle in the oil, then stir them around till the bread has soaked up all the oil.
Next add the freshly grated Parmesan, and stir again till all the bread cubes are well coated. Spread them out over a baking sheet and either bake in the pre-heated oven for 10 minutes, or else place them under the pre-heated grill, turning as necessary. (If you use the grill, watch them like a hawk as they can burn very easily.)
The croutons can be made well in advance and stored in an airtight tin for up to two weeks.