Post #472 Garlic Soup? Really? Yup!

April 25, 2016 at 1:52 PM | Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Post #472 Garlic Soup? Really? Yup!

In my late teens, I visited a friend of mine, an older lady, well steeped in the lore of the “old wives club.”  She had an “old wives tale” for everything.  Her favorite comment was “Old wives aren’t so misinformed.”  We had been busy in her garden that afternoon, so when it came time for dinner, she invited me to stay.

“How do you feel about garlic soup?” she asked.

I was startled.  “Garlic soup?  Never heard of it.”

She immediately started making biscuits to go with the soup since they would take the longest.  Then I watched as she efficiently and quickly peeled and roughly chopped two full heads of garlic.  Not the single cloves, but two large heads of garlic.  She gave them a rough chop and set them aside.  A small carrot was cut into tiny matchstick pieces, and then some baby spinach was washed and torn and set aside.

She put a large soup pot on the stove and turned on the burner to medium low.  She melted some butter and added the garlic.  It was soon sizzling and sending its wonderful aroma throughout the house.  When it was golden brown, she added two teaspoons of flour.

“To sop up the fat,” she said.

She then added a cup of chicken broth and stirred to incorporate it.  It turned into a thick gravy.

“Are we having that over the biscuits?” I asked.

“Nope, just watch.”

She added five more cups of broth, one at a time, stirring until each cup was completely incorporated.  With each addition, the soup became thinner.  It didn’t become clear, not with flour in it, but it came pretty close.  She allowed it to bubble away for a few minutes, then added the carrots.  The soup simmered until the carrots were soft but still toothsome, al dente it’s called, which didn’t take long given their small size.  She turned the fire off, pushed the spinach into the soup and covered it.

She then turned to the fridge and pulled out a tomato, a cucumber, and an onion.

“That goes in, too?” I asked, fascinated at the ingredients.

“No,” she said with a chuckle.  “That goes into the salad.”

Oh, that made sense.  She chopped them and divided them onto small plates and added a small handful of pecans.  The biscuits were done by this time so they came out of the oven.  I set the table with utensils and drinks (this was in the days long before it was popular to leave your table “decorated” with place settings.)  She ladled soup into shallow bowls while I set the salad plates on the table.  I had a wedge of lemon for my salad dressing.  Don’t remember what she did.

We sat down to dinner thirty minutes after starting.  It was the most flavorful and surprising soup I’d ever had.  It was also the first soup I’d ever seen that didn’t simmer four hours.

So I took her out for ice cream for dessert.

Decades later, I was in China and noticed Roasted Garlic Soup on the menu.  I was transported back to my friend’s kitchen and happily ordered it, anticipating something similar.  What I got was something completely different, but equally delicious.  I was fortunate that the chef could speak passable English, so I got the recipe from him.

You roast SIX whole heads of garlic.  If you’ve never roasted garlic before, you’re in for a treat.  Remove as much of the paper skins as you can.  Cut the top off the garlic to include the tips of the garlic cloves.  Turn your oven to 375.  Place the garlic on a large sheet of foil, drizzle with a small amount of olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Make a packet of the foil so the top of the foil does not touch the garlic.  When the oven is ready, roast the garlic for about an hour and fifteen minutes.  Take them out, but do not unwrap them.  When they’re cool to the touch, open the packet and squeeze the cloves into a bowl.  They will be soft and easily mashed so be careful.  At this point, you can spread them on toast, crackers, bread, etc. to make a really good appetizer.

For the soup, though, over medium heat, in a large soup pot, melt a full stick of butter and add the garlic.  Cook it for a few minutes, then add 3/4 cup flour and stir to combine.  This will make a roux.  Cook it until it gets to be a golden color, about five minutes or so.  Add four cups of chicken stock one cup at a time incorporating after each addition.  This will create a very thick gravy.  Then add two cups hot water at once.  Stir until it starts to simmer.  Add some oregano, basil, thyme, your basic Italian seasoning, about a half tablespoon or a full tablespoon depending on your taste.  I like a lighter hand with it.  Cook for another twenty minutes or so.  Serve with crusty bread and shaved parmesan to garnish the top.

I wish I had pictures of these to add, but I enjoyed these soups in the days before cell phones, and taking pictures of every meal wasn’t even thought of at the time.


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