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VOL. 37 | NO. 13 | Friday, March 29, 2013

Closing the lid on an aversion to garlic

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This past week, hubby and I ate at a restaurant where the soup of the day was garlic. This has always sounded like an overwhelming soup to me, so I’ve always passed on it.

For some reason, however, this night was different. I ordered the garlic soup.

Oh my gosh, was I ever surprised. The soup was so incredibly good. And not only did I love it, hubby did, too. He ate almost all of mine, and he’s not much of a soup eater.

Since I’m not an aficionado of garlic soup, I’m not sure if this was the best ever. I’ll be reluctant to order it at a different restaurant, however, because I’ll be afraid of being disappointed.

I do know where this soup is and will most assuredly be ordering it again.

Anyway, I had to find a recipe for it, so I started my research. I found not one but hundreds of them, so I pretty much had to weed through each one to find what I think is closest to what I had eaten. I hope I haven’t set my taste standards too high.

Creamy Garlic Soup

3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons of butter
3 medium onions, chopped
1 bouquet garni (recipe below)
2 cups of garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
2 quarts of chicken broth or stock
1 1/2 teaspoons of salt
2 cups of half-and-half
1/4 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper
Sourdough bread, cubed and toasted for croutons
Freshly ground Parmesan cheese

In a large pot, heat the oil and butter over low heat. Add the onions and garlic. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until very soft and beginning to turn golden – about 30 minutes. Raise the heat to moderate and continue cooking the onions and garlic, uncovered, stirring frequently, until deep golden – about 10 minutes longer. Add the stock, bread, bouquet garni, and salt. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer about 15 minutes. Remove the bouquet garni and puree the soup in a blender or food processor. Strain the soup back into the pot. Add the half-and-half and pepper and bring back to a boil. Serve topped with the croutons or garlic chips – if you like.
 If you’re preparing this a day or two ahead of time, once you’ve pureed the soup, place it in the refrigerator. Before serving, place the soup in a pot and reheat. Add the cream, and then bring to a simmer. Top with cheese and croutons just before serving.
Bouquet garni
Combine six parsley stems, nine sprigs fresh thyme (or 1 1/2 teaspoons of dried thyme) and one bay leaf. Tie them together in a small square of cheesecloth.

Apple fennel salad with tarragon orange vinaigrette

The juice of one large orange
1 tablespoon of vinegar
1/3 cup tarragon-flavored olive oil
1 green apple, cut into thin strips
1 bunch of field greens
1 cup of fennel, sliced
1/3 cup of glazed walnut pieces

Whisk the orange juice and vinegar together. Whisk in the olive oil. Prepare individual salad plates by placing thinly sliced apples on the bottom. Toss the remaining ingredients together and place them on top of apple-lined plate. Pour vinaigrette over everything. Sprinkle with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Serve immediately.

Other than wearing garlic around your neck to ward off vampires (I saw that on TV), what do you know of this tasty little bulb? After poking around some, I found it has quite a long history.

Garlic was worshiped by the ancient Egyptians (for good reason), chewed by Greek Olympic athletes and has a gazillion medical uses.

Garlic is antifungal, an antiseptic and is a powerful antioxidant. It can lower blood pressure and cholesterol, improve circulation and impotence, help improve diabetes, lower cancer risks and help with colds, coughs and stomach conditions, to name just a few.

Garlic is considered one of the earth’s greatest natural remedies for just about anything. For me, that’s great. I love it.

I think the best way to prepare this recipe is to make it a day ahead, doing everything but adding the half-and-half. I saved that for the day I served it. See the note at the bottom of the recipe for those directions.

This soup is wonderful served with an entrée of pasta but would also be good served alongside a grilled cheese sandwich. It’s very versatile.

On top of ordering the delicious soup, I had an apple fennel salad with tarragon orange vinaigrette. This was another “OMG” moment. I gobbled that salad down as if I hadn’t eaten in days! Well, yeah, you guessed it – I have a recipe for it, but it’s from the restaurant itself, thanks to the kindest chef!