For the early months of spring you can get fresh garlic before it is dried. It has a longer, greener stem, giving you the flavor of garlic with a youthful nature. A food mill is very useful for this recipe–in fact a food mill is useful all the time.
This is the second to last dish I made for Brent and Harmony as thank you for their help getting me a day pass to this year’s SXSW. I intended to stuff them silly and this recipe was going to help make that plan a reality.
The day before we had them over, I managed to find some very nice young garlic that hadn’t been dried at the Austin Farmer’s Market. Supposedly it was the last of the season, so I felt pretty darn lucky all the way home. I had been eying this recipe for a while and the prospect of getting to finally make it excited me.
The next evening during “dinner service” I removed the long stems and washed the heads to remove any leftover dirt. Into a pot went the garlic along with a few cups of chicken stock. The stock was brought up to a boil, and once it had been achieved the heat was dropped down to attain a slow simmer. The garlic heads were left to cook for about forty minutes, which meant that the fresh cloves were going to be very, very tender.
Once the necessary time had elapsed, the garlic was removed from the chicken stock. Mr. Henderson had instructed me to take the now softened garlic cloves and pass them through a sieve or food mill. I don’t know if I had cooked the garlic too long, but no extra step was needed. The cloves were almost liquid when I tore into the heads. Through trial and error I found that the best process was to cut the bottom off a garlic head, and then squeeze the cloves out into the same chicken stock I had used earlier.
Right before serving we reheated the soup, mixing the garlic paste and chicken stock together along with some salt and pepper for seasoning.
In each serving bowl my wife placed a handful of cubes cut from the prior day’s bread. The soup was ladled on top to soak in just long enough to soften the bread, but not long enough for it to start falling apart.
Here’s the final dish with some chopped chives as just a little garnish. I hope Mr. Henderson won’t mind too much, as we all know how little he thinks of superfluous additions to a plate.
When I ate the first spoonful of the soup, I felt some disappointment. There were no outstanding flavors that really jumped out and wowed me. I felt sure that I had made some egregious mistake which had stripped the soup of its character. But as I continued to eat, the realization of exactly what was going on dawned on me: this soup was very subtle with its flavor. Metaphorically speaking it was a gentle lamb, not a roaring lion. The garlic flavor was very light and refreshing, growing only slightly stronger with every mouthful. The bread added some nice texture and volume to the soup, but without a doubt the star was the young garlic broth. I’m already counting the days until I can buy fresh garlic again.
One down, seventy to go.