Leek 1 small, trimmed, quartered lengthways and finely chopped
Celery 1 stick, finely chopped
Thyme 2 good sprigs, plus extra to serve
Chestnut mushrooms 250g (9oz), finely sliced
Vegetable Stock Pot or stock cube 1
Boiling water 600ml (1 pint)
Dried porcini mushrooms, snipped into small pieces with scissors to make 1 good tbsp
Ciabatta loaf ½, cut into 6 slices on the diagonal
Crème fraîche 3 tbsp
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Soft blue cheese 75g (3oz)
Heat the oil in a large saucepan and cook the leek, celery and thyme, covered, for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until softened.
Add the chestnut mushrooms, cook for a couple of minutes, then add the Stock Pot (or crumble in the stock cube) and pour in the boiling water. Sprinkle in the dried mushrooms, cover and simmer for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat a griddle pan (or preheat the grill) and toast the ciabatta slices on both sides.
Take out the thyme stalks then whizz the soup with a stick blender, adding 1 tablespoon crème fraîche. Season well.
Spread the blue cheese on the toasts. Pour the soup into warmed bowls. Dot crème fraîche on top of the soup, grind over some black pepper, and sprinkle with a few fresh thyme leaves, if you like.
Whizz briefly for a rustic soup, or for longer if you want a smooth soup. If chestnut mushrooms are unavailable, use portobello or flat mushrooms. Add a peeled garlic clove to the soup along with the mushrooms, or rub a halved garlic clove on the toast before spreading it with cheese.
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