I HAD intended to give my soup a slightly seasonal taste, but on rummaging around in the fridge, it soon became apparent that although I had a head of celery, I'd run out of Stilton cheese.

I did have a bowl of cooking apples, however, and as apples add a special tang to soups such as pumpkin, parsnip and mixed vegetable (to name but a few), I reached for a small apple instead.

The result was quite pleasing, which is why I've decided to share it with you. If, however, you prefer the winter classic celery soup with Stilton, all you have to do is crumble about five ounces (150g) of Stilton into the mix at the point where it requires liquidising.

For four to six portions, you will need: One oz (25g) butter One medium-sized onion - chopped fine One head of celery - trimmed and chopped fine One medium potato - peeled and chopped small One small apple Small bunch fresh herbs, to include marjoram - chopped fine 5 fl oz (150ml) single cream One pt (570ml) boiling water 2 tspns vegetable bouillon powder Salt and freshly-ground black peppercorns to season Method: Prepare the onion, celery, potato, herbs, and cut the apple into small pieces, having removed the core but retained the skin In a large pan, put the chopped celery and butter, and allow to sweat for a few moments Remove two dessert spoonfuls of the celery and retain as a crunchy garnish Add the onion, potato, herbs and apple, and continue to allow it to sweat, stirring as you go, so that nothing catches on the bottom. This should take about eight minutes, as you want the vegetables to begin softening, but not to turn brown Pour on the boiling water, stir in the vegetable bouillon powder and seasoning, and allow to simmer until the celery is completely cooked, which should take about 30 minutes Remove from heat, allow to cool a little, add the cream and then liquidise. For a really smooth finish, pass through a fine sieve too Adjust seasoning, reheat gently, but don't allow to boil Serve garnished with a teaspoon of the celery in each bowl.

NOTE: Crispy pieces of bacon act as a great garnish too.