Soak the saffron in 2 tbsp hot
water for 10 minutes. Melt the
butter in a large saucepan. Add
the garlic (and its skin), onion,
celery and bay leaf to the pan,
stir to coat in the butter, then
cook very gently, covered, for
about 15-20 minutes. The
garlic and onions should be very
soft and tender but not at all
browned, so keep the heat low.
Uncover and add the sherry,
raise the heat and bring to the
boil then add the stock, saffron
and its liquid, 1 tsp salt and a
good grinding of fresh black
pepper. Bring to the boil, stir in
the rice and simmer gently for
15 minutes or until
the rice is just cooked. Fish the
bay leaf out and discard.
Liquidise the soup then sieve
back into the pan (this gets rid
of any bits of skin). Pour in the
cream and reheat until hot.
Adjust the seasoning adding a
little lemon juice to taste if
liked and thin with a splash of
milk if too thick. Serve
sprinkled with croûtons.