Saturday, April 16, 2011

Double Take: Garlic Soup (a quick and tasty broth for stews)

All soups are not created equal. Lately I've become more conscious of some of the differences in soups: chunky, veggie heavy, creamy, brothy, herb endowed, etc. From the occasional packed lunch in elementary school, I learned that there were some soup bases I liked and some I couldn't eat. For instance, I liked chicken and stars broth better than plain chicken noodle soup. I still can't tell you the exact difference but chicken and stars tastes different ...its thicker and seriously its not just the stars....its better. I also liked the soups with tomato broth but not tomato stock. I think that tomato stock used tomato paste and who knows what else. All I knew as a kid was that I didn't like it. Mom said you picked it, you eat it. You'll learn the difference and not pick it next time. She was right. I learned to read what was different on the labels and rarely got tricked into the funny dinosaur noodles in tomato stock. They were cute, but not tasty.

Today's soup, is not so much a soup as it is a broth. Its reminiscent of the broth texture you'd find in chicken noodle soup but with an herbed flavor. It honestly doesn't taste like garlic even if you double it (and I did). It does have a lot of herbal flexibility so you can suit your family's taste. It is not photogenic but definitely worth the extra few minutes (10-15) to prepare the broth for your next beef stew. I'd like to give a shout out here to Laura at Hey What's for Dinner Mom for pointing out this recipe. The original is from Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking.

I served this soup first as a starter for supper with friends. We followed it up with grilled steak/fish, baked potatoes, and corn. One friend ate soup on her potato and dipped her fish in it. She was all about this soup. She started going on about how great it would be with noodles or as a base for beef stew. The only flavor that I didn't prefer in it was the original nutmeg and I (of course) couldn't help but make a few changes also.

Laura changed the recipe up a bit and added homemade croutons to boot. Julia Child strained hers. I did a pseudostrain. I removed the garlic and mushed it up and I removed the bay leaf. I left the rest of the herbs for added flavor. I also added a few herbs into the mix. I liked them and they were handy. The key difference in the future is that I'd skip the nutmeg entirely. I find nutmeg overpowering often. It wasn't in this case but it does give a bite that  I don't prefer. I still like the soup/broth and I'd make it the same way as this time only without the nutmeg. I'll leave a star by the nutmeg so you can decide for yourself. After all, some kids liked the tomato paste based soup. I say to each their own.

Garlic Soup 
(mutated from the original work of Julia Child and the adapted work of Laura of Hey What's for Dinner Mom)


2 whole heads of garlic
4 quarts of water (2 qts for the first part and 2 quarts for the main soup)

1 tsp salt
1 tsp onion salt
1/8 tsp black pepper
1 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp sage
1 tsp thyme
2 Tbsp parsley
1/2 tsp nutmeg * optional
1 Tbsp rosemary
1 Tbsp chives
3 Tbsp olive oil (I use Greek extra virgin olive oil)

3 egg yolks
3-4 Tbsp olive oil

How To:

1. Boil 2 quarts of water. While bringing the water to a boil, separate the garlic heads into cloves but do not peel.

2. Toss the garlic cloves into the water for 30 s. Drain, rinse with cold water and peel. (The peels should slide right off rather quickly.)

3. Place garlic, the remaining  2 quarts of water and all other ingredients (except egg yolks and remaining 3-4 Tbsp olive oil) into the pot and bring to a boil again.

4. Beat the eggs with a whisk or fork or mini food processor. Drizzle the olive oil into the eggs while beating. The mini food processor is great for this b/c it adds the oil drop by drop if you pour into the slot on the top. If you pour too quickly, the egg will break. However, this isn't much oil so a thin drizzle should be fine. Remember to beat continually while adding the oil.

5.  Add the egg mixture a little at a time to the hot soup, whisking continually.  Remove the bay leaf and garlic cloves with a slotted spoon or strain through a strainer. Mash the garlic through the strainer so that it is fine. Feel free to dump the herbs back into the broth or if you used the slotted spoon, they're still in there. Add the garlic back to the broth and stir it in to incorporate it. Serve as desired.

Garlic Soup Base


This is good but I wouldn't stop here. Feel free to go ahead and toss in some leftover roast beef or roast some beef in it. While you're at it, you can do a mini fridge clean out! May I suggest the addition of the following to create a fun stew: baby carrots, potatoes (sliced into bite size chunks), sweet potato (chunks), onion, corn, noodles, and any leftover stewed meat. Alternately, feel free to eat this over a baked potato or dip some fish in it. H seemed to love it that way!

Oh the possibilities! I'd call this kitchen sink soup.
I really felt like I was cleaning out the fridge with this recipe. Check out the purple sweet potatoes!

Be sure to see Mel's soup while you're at it.

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