Garlands of garlic

Even after offering heads of garlic as lovely parting gifts to each visitor to my home in the last few weeks, I noticed last night that the bag of garlic The Hub brought home was still about half full. I combed through my cookbooks on Sunday, determined to make a dent in the sack.

The result: Garlic soup, based on a recipe from “Soup: A Way of Life” by Barbara Kafka (Artisan, 1998) with my additions. The crucial part of this soup, as Kafka writes, is cooking the garlic cloves very slowly until they’re pillowy soft. Do not let them come anywhere near brown. I left them whole in the finished soup, but I suppose you could puree them. A little coconut milk might be interesting, too.

Garlic Soup

1 tablespoon olive oil

3 heads garlic, peeled and sliced in half (remove any green part in the center and discard)

1 (3-inch) stalk lemongrass, cut in half lengthwise

About 1/2 cup chicken broth (I used the broth from cooking the chicken in the microwave)

2 boneless chicken breasts, cooked and shredded

1/2 to 1 serrano chile, chopped

Juice of 1 lime

About 2 cups baby spinach

Salt to taste

About a cup of cilantro leaves

Heat the oil in a large pot over low – and I mean low – heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes, or until the garlic is silky and translucent. Do not let it brown. Do not be tempted to raise the heat. Add 9 cups of water, the chicken broth and the lemongrass and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to simmer and cook, uncovered, about 30 minutes. Add the chile, shredded chicken, lime juice, spinach and cilantro. Cover and simmer on low heat for a few minutes, until the cilantro and spinach wilt a little. Taste and add salt as desired. Remove the lemongrass before serving.


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