Heat oven to 220C/Gas 7. Place a large roasting tray in oven to heat up.
Remove the leaves from your cauliflower. (Save them. You can cook them up like cabbage. Lovely roasted with salt, pepper and olive oil.)
Cut your cauli into chunky florets; keep the creamy white stems attached. Cut the white and light green into 1cm-thick rounds.
Onion instead? Peel, halve and thinly slice. Crush garlic flat your hand or side of a knife; keep skin on.
Toss prepped veg into a bowl with thyme, salt, pepper and a gloss of oil. Mix well. Tumble mix onto hot roasting tray. Shake to evenly distribute. Roast 30 mins, or til the veg is soft and starting to crisp around the edges.
While it cooks, melt the butter in a large pot. Once it starts to froth up, swirl in the flour. Mix til you have a golden paste. Slowly whisk in the cider. Fold in the cheese. Stir til melted. Add your roasted veg (removing the garlic skin and thyme sprigs first).
If you're keeping the soup chunky, add the bay leaf and stock now. Turn up the heat a little and cook till thickened. Add a little nutmeg, if you have some. Taste. Adjust seasoning. For a smooth soup, blend veg with the cheese sauce. Slowly add the stock till it reaches desired consistency. Scrape it through a fine mesh seive to make it silky smooth. Add bay/nutmeg, taste and tweak seaonsing; simmer till thickened as above.
Toast the almonds in a frying pan with a little butter and sea salt, till golden. Scatter over the soup to finish.
*I've also tried this with Lincolnshire Poacher from Good Taste Food & Drink on Westow Hill. It'll also work with Gruyere or Cheddar. You could also swap the cider for Savour Saison beer from Good Taste - works a treat.