Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Recipe: Garlic Soup

We interrupt our regular programme to bring you this special bulletin.

Now I really like garlic. Garlic and onions are perhaps two of the best plants ever to have been discovered by humanity. I should have been born Italian or something, with my love for garlic.

Besides, garlic's good for your health. All kinds of medicinal benefits like lowering cholestrol, acting as an antibiotic, an antioxidant and improves circulation.

So anyway, I had a chance to sample some garlic soup at a restaurant some time ago, and it was really good. A little creamy, mild, yet with an undeniable aroma of garlic that washes over you and makes you feel all warm and tingly. I've wanted to replicate that soup ever since, but never found a good recipe. I tried an Aigo Buido recipe out of Julia Child, but that was an unspeakable disaster and should never be mentioned again.

While in France though, my dad fished out an article of a paper he was reading and gave it to me. It was about garlic farming, and included was a recipe on garlic soup! I knew I had to try it, especially since it's really simple.

Ingredients (Serves 4)

Six whole garlic bulbs, peeled, crushed and roughly chopped
1 large onion, chopped
1 Tbsp fresh thyme
600ml chicken stock
300ml whole milk
2 Tbsp double cream
1 Tbsp snipped chives

I was only cooking for one, so I reduced everything by a third. Six bulbs for four people seems a little excessive, I think four is sufficient for a nice, mild soup. 600ml of chicken stock also imparts too much saltiness, so perhaps 500ml stock and 400ml milk might do the trick. As a result, the soup was kind of heaty - but very good for a cold rainy day when you have the flu. I also used marjoram instead of thyme, which was a mistake, because it adds dark flecks to the soup after blending.

Garlic Soup 02

Heat some olive oil in a large, heavy based pan and gently cook the garlic, onion and thyme over very low heat for 20 to 30 minutes till they are completely soft but not coloured. The longer you cook them, the milder your garlic becomes, but the higher your chances of burning everything. Your call.

Garlic Soup 03

My garlic was in large chunks, so they were getting browned before they were sufficiently soft. I used the spatula to break them up into smaller pieces, but this is probably a second-best solution.

Garlic Soup 04

Once done, add the stock and milk, bring to the boil and simmer for 20 minutes. By now the soup should have thickened to the consistency of gruel.

Garlic Soup 05

If, like me, you did add marjoram or some other big-leafed herb, you can try and fish them out with a fork before blending to improve the colour.

Garlic Soup 06

Blend the lot in a blender till smooth, and serve in bowls, garnished with some snipped chives if you so desire.

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