Tuesday, March 29, 2011

44 Clove Garlic Soup

Last night I made 44 clove garlic soup.  Yes, you read that right.  Apparently this is a recipe that has been making its rounds on cooking blogs for awhile now.  I’m one of those people who like garlic just enough to not be scared of the title.  My husband is a different story.  He likes garlic a moderate amount, whereas I’m perfectly happy being overwhelmed by it.  I tried to hide the recipe from him so he’d stay objective, but that didn’t work.   As my garlic cloves roasted, he made various comments about how a vampire entering our kitchen would have died by now. 

You might have noticed that I mentioned roasting the cloves.  The remaining cloves are sautéed whole and simmered in chicken stock.  After going through these processes, the number 44 doesn’t seem quite so scary.  Personally, I thought the combo of garlic, thyme and onions cooking smelled amazing. 

44 Clove Garlic Soup (Adapted from Bon Appetit, via Smitten Kitchen or gimme some oven)
  • 26 garlic cloves (unpeeled)
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp. (1/4 stick) butter
  • 2 cups sliced onions
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
  • 18 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 3 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 2 cups shredded cooked chicken (optional)
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese (about 2 ounces)
  • salt and freshly-ground black pepper
  • 4 lemon wedges
Preheat oven to 350°F. Place 26 garlic cloves in small glass baking dish. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper; toss to coat. Cover baking dish tightly with foil and bake until garlic is golden brown and tender, about 45 minutes. Cool. Squeeze garlic between fingertips to release cloves. Transfer cloves to small bowl.
Melt butter in heavy large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onions and thyme and cook until onions are translucent, about 6 minutes. Add roasted garlic and 18 raw garlic cloves and cook 3 minutes. Add chicken stock; cover and simmer until garlic is very tender, about 20 minutes. Working in batches, puree soup in blender until smooth. Return soup to saucepan; add shredded chicken and cream, and bring to simmer. Season with salt and freshly-ground black pepper.
Divide grated cheese among 4 bowls and ladle soup over. Squeeze juice of 1 lemon wedge into each bowl and serve.

For my recipes, I went ahead and added some chicken.  I also cut the recipe in half, even though 22 garlic cloves didn’t sound quite as impressive.  I wanted to try a healthier route, so I used less olive oil and substituted fat free half and half for the cream.  This does make the soup a little thinner.  You should also only try this if you are not going to have leftovers, as soups with fat free half and half don’t store well.

I thought this soup was fantastic. It has a nice, robust roasted garlic flavor, but isn’t overwhelming.  Despite my husband’s earlier comments, he still protested when I suggested I could finish his share.  He did add more cracked pepper to his and declared the chicken to be necessary, whereas I actually would want to leave it out next time.  Bottom line?  If you love garlic, you have to try this soup. 

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