From the Garden | Garlic Soup with Potatoes

I can fall in love with just about anyone, if I've heard their story. Have you heard a similar phrase? I find it rings true for myself, and I always end up falling deep into other people's stories and become fascinated by their life's work, their failures, lessons, and successes. I didn't really care to know who Julia Child was growing up, but since then I have taken a fondness to her. She was such an interesting person! This past Christmas I was gifted Mastering the Art of French Cooking, something I had been looking into getting myself, as cooking is becoming more and more a part of who I am. It was never something that I really loved either, but we didn't eat a lot of creative things until now. I think food can be so special, such a window into new worlds around you and within yourself. I believe it was only a few years ago, when we took a trip to Oregon that I decided I actually liked trying new food. We were making a stop in Portland and wanted to find a place to eat, not some chain, but somewhere local like a dive or ahole-in-the-wall. We came across Blueplate Lunch Counter and fell in love. It was a meal where it felt homemade, like something I could recreate myself and remember a time spent somewhere else. Now we look out for small diners and dives to eat at, and we make more memorable meals at home. Cooking is not an easy habit to get into, especially if you are used to eating like the average Western Diet where everything comes premade, but it's a habit that you just cannot beat. There is really nothing more satisfying than cooking with your family, with real food, and enjoying the work that is creating a meal. I am really looking forward to Thanksgiving this year because it's not going to feel like as much work as it did before! Ha!

Back to Julia Child. Although we grow most of our own produce, we still have days around the house where the pantry seems empty and fridge barren. I search and search and search for a meal idea and come up with pickles and yogurt. Yum! And while we always have plenty of food on hand, that creative spark just doesn't come quickly enough, so I reach for a beloved cookbook. On this particular day, a cold and rainy afternoon in spring, I reached for Julia Child's masterpiece on learning to cook like the French. Flipping through the soup pages, I happened upon a recipe I had not heard of before... garlic soup. It sounded a little revolting. Who likes a soup made out of garlic alone? But I read the description and decided to try it...

"Enjoying your first bowl of garlic soup, you might never suspect what it is made of. Because the garlic is boiled, its after-effects are at a minimum, and its flavor becomes exquisite, aromatic, and almost undefinable." Mastering the Art of French Cooking, page 46.

INGREDIENTS | (adapted from Mastering the Art of French Cooking)

  • 16-20 cloves garlic, separated and unpeeled
  • 8 cups water
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp pepper
  • 2 whole cloves
  • 2 sprigs fresh sage
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 4 sprigs fresh parsley
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cups boiling potatoes, diced
  • pinch of paprika
  • 1 cup parmesan or Swiss cheese, grated
  1. Boil a few cups of water in a large soup pot. Once it has reached a rolling boil, drop in the garlic cloves and boil for about 30 seconds. Drain and run cold water over them in a colander. Once cool enough to touch, peel them. 
  2. Fill your soup pot with your 8 cups of water. Place the garlic into the pot along with your herbs, tied in a bouquet garni. This is done by gathering the herbs in a bundle and tying tightly with string, much like a smudge stick. Add the cloves, bay leaves (if dried), and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. 
  3. Boil slowly at medium/low heat for 30 minutes. Adjust seasoning and stir occasionally. 
  4. Once the soup has simmered for 30 minutes, strain it to remove all herbs, spices, and the garlic. Return it to your soup pot. 
  5. Add the potatoes into the pot and bring to a simmer, along with the added paprika, until tender. Add more salt and pepper if desired.
  6. Serve with your favorite bread and some sprinkled parmesan cheese.

I have to take Julia, Louisette, and Simone's word for it: this soup is really unique! I remember serving it for the first time to my parent's surprise, without telling them what exactly we were eating, and they just could not figure out which type of soup it was. We are definitely a cream soup loving family, and this thin broth-like meal was almost looked down upon. However, it is very filling and so very tasty. I hope you try it! You may even use dried herbs if you prefer, just be sure to strain them out, as they could be unpleasant to get a spoonful of. Try serving with homemade bread like my common, no-knead bread recipe, which is super easy to throw together in a couple of hours. 

I hope you enjoy this soup! It is such an easy one to make when all of you have left in your pantry is a head of garlic. It might even be a bit satisfying filled with other root vegetables such as carrots, turnips, and parsnips. 

xoxo Kayla

My utility scissors are courtesy of Freckled Hen Farmhouse.