Kay’s Cooking Corner

March 20-26, 2017

Garlic – not just for driving away vampires!

By Kay Bona

This past week hubby and I ate at a restaurant where the soup of the day was Garlic Soup. This has always sounded like an overwhelming soup to me, so I have always passed it on. However, for some reason this night was different. Curiosity got the best of me, and so I ordered the Garlic Soup.

Oh my gosh - was I ever surprised! This soup was So. Incredibly. Good! And not only did I love it hubby did too. He ate most all of mine, and he is not so much of a soup eater.

Since I am not aficionado of garlic soup, I am not sure if what I had was the best ever or not, but I will be reluctant at ordering it at a different restaurant because of being disappointed. I do know where I ate this particular soup, and so will most assuredly be getting it again.

Anyway, I had to find a recipe so I started my research. Needless to say, I found not just one but hundreds of them so I pretty much had to weed through each one to find what I thought was the closest to what I had eaten. I hope that I haven’t set my “taste” standards so high I’ll let myself down.

Other than wearing garlic around your neck to ward off vampires (I saw that on T.V.), what do you know of this tasty little bulb? After poking around some, I found that it has quite a long history.

Garlic was worshiped by the ancient Egyptians (for good reason), chewed by Greek Olympian athletes, and has gazillion medical remedies.

Garlic is antifungal and antiseptic and is a powerful anti-oxidant. It can lower blood pressure and cholesterol, improve circulation and impotence, help improve diabetes, lower cancer risks, help with colds and coughs, stomach conditions and cancer – this is just to name a few.

Garlic is considered one of the earth’s greatest natural remedies for just about anything. For me, that’s great. I love it.

I think the best way to have this is by making it a day ahead, doing everything but adding the half-and-half. I saved that for the day I served it. See the note at the bottom of the recipe for those directions.

This soup is wonderful served with an entrée of pasta, however it would be good served alongside a grilled cheese sandwich. It is very versatile.

On top of ordering the delicious soup, I had an Apple Fennel Salad with Tarragon Orange Vinaigrette. This was another “OMG” moment. I gobbled that salad down as if I had not eaten in days! Well, yeah you guessed it – I have a recipe for it, but it is from the restaurant itself, thanks to the kindest chef!

Apple Fennel Salad with Tarragon Orange Vinaigrette

Juice of one large Orange
1 Tablespoon Vinegar
1/3 cup Tarragon flavored olive oil
1 Green Apple, cut into thin strips
1 bunch Field greens
1 cup Fennel, sliced
1/3 cup Glazed Walnut pieces

Whisk orange juice and vinegar together. Whisk in olive oil. Prepare individual salad plates by placing thinly sliced apples on bottom. Toss remaining ingredients together and place on top of apple-lined plate; pour vinaigrette over all. Sprinkle with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Serve immediately.

Creamy Garlic Soup

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
3 medium onions, chopped
1 Bouquet Garni (recipe follows)
2 cups garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
2 quarts chicken broth or stock
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
2 cups half-and-half
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Sourdough bread, cubed and toasted for croutons
Freshly ground Parmesan Cheese

In a large pot, heat the oil and butter over low heat. Add the onions and garlic. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until very soft and beginning to turn golden, about 30 minutes. Raise the heat to moderate and continue cooking the onions and garlic, uncovered, stirring frequently, until deep golden, about 10 minutes longer.

Add the stock, bread, bouquet garni, and salt. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer about 15 minutes.

Remove the bouquet garni and puree the soup in a blender or food processor. Strain the soup back into the pot. Add the half-and-half and pepper and bring back to a boil. Serve topped with the croutons or garlic chips, if you like.

*Note: If preparing a day or two ahead, once soup has been pureed, place in refrigerator. Before time to serve, remove from refrigerator, place in pot and reheat. Add the cream, and bring to a simmer. Top with cheese and croutons just before serving.

Bouquet Garni

Combine 6 parsley stems, 9 sprigs fresh thyme (or 1-1/2 teaspoons dried) and 1 bay leaf. Tie together in a small square of cheesecloth.

Kay Bona is a staff writer for the Daily Record and an award-winning columnist and photographer. Contact her at kay@dailydata.com.