I will be making up for my lack of blogging with two recipe’s this weekend. A few weekends ago, were unintentionally productive (the preserved cherry recipe will be the next entry I do…) I wanted to do lots outside, but this hellish heat-wave settled in on Friday, and after weeding the shade garden behind the house, outside was not an option. So, I went grocery shopping. I tried to reign in my prolific food spending, but managed to just buy less expensive things that I use in my store cupboard. If anyone reading this has any idea of me, they know I am pleasurably obsessed with Nigella Lawson. And from her, I got encouragement that yes, my very, very, VERY stocked pantry is entirely necessary!
And so, I came up with a fabulastic garlic soup recipe, culled from previous tries, an encounter with the unfortunate Jeff Smith (AKA the Frugal Gourmet, who also introduced me to cheddar beer soup…) and a reminder that I hadn’t made this in a while from Mark Bittman. Mr. B reminded me that sage is lovely here, and that I have a thriving sage patch in my container garden. Also TONS of variegated lemon thyme that I brush up against every time I walk out my back door. So here is my garlic soup, with a nod to the wonderful Mr. Bittman. I'd like to add here that I had soup left over and made a wonderful dish of steamed new potatoes and this soup the following night and it was heavenly... Tim wanted seconds!
For the soup:
2 smashed and peeled garlic heads, sliced into thick slices/cut into manageable bits
¼ cup good olive oil
4 – 5 medium fresh sage leaves (don’t use dried, just don’t use anything if fresh isn’t available.)
6 cups of good low-sodium chicken or vegetable stock, or water (with a little soy sauce thrown in for taste, I also have been known to use water and some Vegeeta which gives it a lovely yellow color)
salt and pepper to taste
For the croutons:
4 thick slices of good Italian or French bread
4 tablespoons of olive oil
1 sage leaf
1 garlic clove, cut in half
Heat the olive oil and the garlic slices over a low flame in a heavy bottomed soup pot. Sprinkle over a little salt to help the garlic release its juices. When the oil starts to sizzle a little, toss in the sage leaves and allow them to fry for a bit. What you’re going for here is cooked garlic that has not colored at all, just softened and cooked. If you get browning on the garlic throw the whole lot out and start again. If you go slowly and watch carefully it should take about 6 – 7 minutes on a low flame. When the garlic mashes easily with the back of a spoon, add in the chicken stock and raise the heat up to medium and bring it to a boil. One it comes to a boil, allow it to bubble for about 2 – 3 minutes, then lower the heat to a simmer and cover. Simmer for 10 minutes watching carefully that the water doesn’t cook away, and stir occasionally.
After you have simmered for 10 minutes and are assured that the soup has good flavor (check and add salt and pepper as you feel it needs) take it off the heat and cool for about 10 minutes. Add the cooled soup to a blender and puree, or use your immersion blender until the soup is completely pureed and milky looking. Add it back to the pot, or just cover the pot you used the immersion blender in and set on the stove at a bare simmer.
Then make the croutons. If you have a toaster oven, use that, otherwise heat your oven to 375. Place the 4 pieces of bread onto a baking sheet and use the oil to drizzle over them. Put into the oven to toast for 6 minutes, but keep an eye on them, don’t let them burn. When they are toasted, you can toast the other side if you like, and then take them off the baking sheet and rub with the halved garlic cloves, and run the sage leaves lightly over them. Place the croutons in large bowls and pour the soup over them, and eat right away.