Stilton and celery soup recipe… and how to make chicken stock

If you’ve never made your own soups before, you could be pleasantly surprised by how easy they are. Not only that, they’re very economical; to make them into a more substantial meal, all you’ve got to do is bake a potato or serve with a couple of slices of bread.
This particular recipe is my all-time favourite – you can really taste the stilton. I know that Stilton is a bit like Marmite – you either love it or hate it – but if you’re in the “love” camp, then you will adore this soup.
You will need (serves two):
1. About a pint (or half a litre) of chicken stock. Stock made from a stock cube will do fine, or you could make your own – see below
2. Four or five sticks of celery, cleaned, de-strung and sliced into small pieces
3. Half a medium sized onion, chopped
4. Stilton to taste. A couple of ounces (50 g) to start with, plus more for extra “cheesiness” if desired.
Fry the celery and onion in butter or oil until it goes glassy (don’t let the butter burn). Add the stock and bring to the boil slowly. Simmer for half an hour, with occasional stirring. Blitz the mixture with a hand-held food processor until you’ve got rid of most of the chunks, although you can always leave some in if you want. Add the cheese, and simmer some more until it’s melted. And that’s it. Pepper can be added if you like, but you probably won’t want much if any salt, because celery is salty in its own right.
How to make the stock? If you’ve roasted a chicken and picked the bones clean, then all you’ve got to do is break the bones up so the carcass is in several large pieces, place in a saucepan and cover with water. Bring to the boil slowly as you did for the soup, and allow to simmer with the lid off very gently for a couple of hours. Strain the mixture through a sieve. Allow the liquid to cool to room temperature. Then put the lid on the pan and leave in the fridge overnight – any fat in the stock will rise to the top and solidify. You can scrape it off and use it in place of butter for frying bacon, steak etc. The stock should either be used within two days (keep it in the fridge though), or you can freeze it. Some people like to put it into ice cube trays; you can also freeze fresh herbs in it to give you a supply over the winter months.
© Empress Felicity 2009