Wednesday, January 11, 2012
Cream of Garlic Soup
From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...Several times a year, I throw caution to the wind and invest in a center cut piece of beef tenderloin. That's a sure sign I'm yearning for the dinner parties of my misspent youth and have a yen for chateaubriand that I feel can only be justified by the presence of guests at our table. While I no longer called these occasions dinner parties, they are special dinners where good food and fine wine are combined with great conversation and the company of good friends. I want the food to be delicious, but I also want it to be simple, so I can enjoy the company of our guests. That means the first course I serve will usually be a soup that can be made well ahead of time. This lovely cream soup, develop by chef Susan Spicer, is perfect for those occasions. It is made from a slurry of garlic and onions that mellow with long, slow cooking. The soup is then pureed to perfect smoothness and enriched with light cream just before it is served. The trick to this, of course, is proper cooking of the onions and garlic. While the recipe calls for chopped onions and garlic, I've found they exude less liquid and brown better when sliced. Because garlic can burn quickly, I partially cook the onions before adding it to the slurry and I consider the times recommended in the recipe to be suggestions rather than fiat. The vegetables should be cooked until they are golden brown and form a slurry similar to that of an onion soup. That might take longer than the recipe suggests, so don't rush the process. If you master the slurry, you will have a interesting soup that makes your socks go up and down. This is a lovely soup that ages well. I hope you will give it a try. Here's the recipe.
Cream of Garlic Soup...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite courtesy of Susan Spicer
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
2 pounds onions, about 4, chopped
2 cups garlic cloves, about 4 large
2 quarts Chicken Stock or canned
low-sodium chicken broth
1/2 loaf day-old French bread (about
1/4 pound), cut into chunks
1 bouquet garni: 6 parsley stems, 9 sprigs fresh thyme or 1-1/2 teaspoons dried, and 1 bay leaf
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
2 cups half-and-half
1/4 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
1) Heat oil and butter in a large pot set over low heat. Add onions and garlic. Cover pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until very soft and beginning to turn golden, about 30 minutes. Raise heat to moderate and continue cooking onions and garlic, uncovered, stirring frequently, until deep golden, about 10 minutes longer.
2) Add stock, bread, bouquet garni, and salt. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer about 15 minutes.
3) Remove bouquet garni and purée soup in a blender or food processor. Strain soup back into pot. Add half-and-half and pepper and bring back to a boil. Serve topped with croutons, if you like. Yield: 6 servings.
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