Garlic Soup (and a Soup-Serving Rule)

There is something about October and the crisp excitement of fall that gives me a haunted sort of craving. You see, about this time every year, there is a large festival in Virginia celebrating that mysterious bulb of stinky goodness.

Garlic.

I don’t know what it is. The full moon? The preemptive anticipation of that ghoulish holiday? Something about this time of year makes me garlic-crazy.

So although garlic soup may initially sound, well, a bit strange, I assure you it is delightfully light, almost sweet, incredibly nurturing, and one of the simpler soups that you’ve likely never made before.

(And in case that’s not garlicky enough for you, check out the 40 Cloves Chicken I made last year).

Garlic Soup (from Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child)
Yum Factor: Alex – 7.6, Jessalyn – 8 

Base –  uh…none?
Aromatics – 8 cloves garlic, cloves, thyme, parsley, bay
Liquid – 1 quart water
Garnishes – egg yolk thickener, grilled bread, cheese 

– 8 cloves garlic, peeled
– 1 quart water
– 1/2 teaspoon salt
– less than 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
– a few sprigs of thyme, leaves removed
– a few sprigs of parsley
– 1/2 bay leaf
– 1.5 tablespoons olive oil

1. Place above ingredients in a small saucepot and boil gently for about 30 minutes. It will start to smell really good.

2. Pay attention to this rule: At about this point, put the bowls in which you intend to serve the soup in the oven to warm (say at about 200F degrees). This is a simple restaurant trick and makes perfectly logical sense: serve warm foods on warm plates; serve cold foods on chilled plates. This particular soup especially benefits from this rule and I’ll explain why shortly.

– egg yolks (1 large or 2 small)
– 1.5 – 2 tablespoons olive oil 

3. In the last few minutes of your broth’s bath, whisk together the egg yolks and the olive oil, drizzled in s-l-o-w-l-y–kind of like you are making a mayonnaise. (What? You don’t hand-whip your own mayonnaise? I kid. Though you should try it at some point with fresh eggs. Makes a deliciously rich substance). You’ll want to do this in a separate bowl (Madame Child recommends in the tureen from which you intend to serve your soup).

4. When your thickener is ready, strain your garlic broth so that the large chunks of flavor ingredients are removed. Smoosh the garlic cloves against the strainer with the back of a wooden spoon to extrapolate all their juices. 

5. Now it’s time to thicken. You can’t just add this piping hot broth to your egg-based thickener–that would give you scrambled eggs in egg-drop soup! Instead, slowly whisk in about 1/4 cup of hot soup to your thickener. This will bring it up to temperature. Then you can slowly whisk in the rest of the hot broth. 

Serve in warm bowls with some grated Parmesan cheese and maybe some grilled bread.

The reason why I especially recommend warming the bowls for this soup is because the soup cools down very quickly thanks to all the whisking you have to do to incorporate the egg yolk thickener. While lukewarm garlic soup may be appetizing to you, it’s best served hot. (And if you do decide to reheat in the middle of dinner, just don’t forget that your fine china is metal-rimmed and shouldn’t be microwaved).

This soup proved to have a little bit different technique than any that I’ve made so far–it was almost as if we were making a watery, garlicky sort of hollandaise. I would guess that you could thicken the soup with a butter/flour roux, if you really wanted to and would rather not deal with the egg. But I would guess that the color of that soup would turn out differently–the egg yolks really brightened up our broth.

The health benefits of garlic have long been studied, and perhaps that is the reason we ate this soup for several days the week before our big day–you know, to make sure our immune systems were strong amidst all the hugging and happy crying. So whether you want to ward off some Halloween vampires this year or just prepare for cold season, don’t be intimidated by this soup. It is both elegant and comforting and not as overwhelmingly garlicky as you might think. 

What’s your go-to immune system booster food? Or do you have any comforting cravings at this time of year? Have you ever had garlic ice cream? (Yes, it does exist). What do the goons and goblins in your house like to eat before trick-or-treating? Do tell.

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One thought on “Garlic Soup (and a Soup-Serving Rule)

  1. […] I myself have also been working on getting our meals more organized, particularly now that I have a handsome husband to dutifully […]

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