Saturday, January 28, 2006

garlic three ways soup

I forgot to mention that one of my favorite things in Alaska was the garlic soup I had for lunch one afternoon at a cute little tapas restaurant after walking through the freezing cold to take in the Anchorage Museum. Perfect soup for winter weather, and given my penchant for soups, we've been trying to recreate it back here at home. I think we've gotten it down pretty well now.

Garlic Three Ways Soup:

Several heads of garlic
Beef broth (I used a mixture of boxed and canned, plus a bullion cube or two)
2-3 tablespoons of cognac, added to the broth
Pinch of cayenne pepper

Peel a head of garlic and roast in a toaster oven at 375, wrapped in aluminum foil and drizzled with olive oil, until soft and golden (maybe 40 minutes or so).

Peel another head of garlic, or more if you want to be really bold. Divide. Chop some up pretty fine and throw in a soup pot with a little olive oil and saute over medium heat till golden. Pour in as much beef broth as you want (one could of course use chicken or veggie broth, but there's something especially delicious about the simple meatiness of the beef broth with the garlic). Toss in the whole garlic cloves that you've set aside from that second head of garlic and bring to a simmer. Throw in a pinch of cayenne just to spice it up a bit, and the cognac.

While the soup is simmering away, slice the baguette and put a slice of mozarella on each piece. Broil briefly in the oven just until the bread is slightly toasted and the cheese has melted nicely. Also don't forget about the garlic in the toaster oven, which you can either mash up and throw in the soup pot, or mash up on the cheese toasts, or just leave whole in the soup.

After the soup has simmered long enough for the whole cloves to be pretty soft, maybe 20 minutes or so, place two slices of cheese toasts in each bowl. Crack an egg into a small prep bowl and slide the egg into the broth so that it stays whole, and let cook just intil set (no more than a couple minutes). Ladle some soup, including the funny-looking round poached egg, on to the toasts. Repeat for each serving. If you've got the eggs right, the yolks will still be slightly runny and will burst out into the broth and cheese and toast and be one of the best things you've ever eaten.

This is neither here nor there, but this recipe reminds me of Francie Nolan, one of my childhood heroines and the central character of A Tree Grows In Brooklyn. Her esteemed mama would make Francie and her little brother wear a head of garlic around their necks when they went to school in the winter. She believed that garlic had medicinal properties and would prevent the little ones from catching colds and flus and other scary public-school-at-the-turn-of-the-century germs. And indeed they didn't get sick, but Francie believed it wasn't the garlic's professed medicinal qualities that did the trick, but rather that the garlic reeked so badly that none of the other school kids would come near them.

This soup'll warm your belly, keep you healthy and ward off the vampires, and how can you go wrong with that?

No comments: