The husband got interested in growing garlic four years ago. Now we have three beds- on the front lawn no less- devoted to it. This is perfect for deer infested neighborhoods like mine because they don’t like it, meaning our gardening efforts are not treated as a Bambi buffet.
Instead we feast on garlic scapes during the month of June and then pull the fully matured bulbs, an allium like onions related to the lily family, in July. After investing in an assortment of varietals, some heirloom, from Thaxton’s Organic Garlic in Hudson (http://www.thaxtonsorganicgarlic.com) as starter stock, a portion of each season’s harvest is now set aside to put in the ground the following fall.
We have Spanish Roja. Khabar. Bogatyr, Georgian Crystal, German White and German Red. There are large and medium sized heads, some with purple tinted skins. They’re bundled and hanging in the basement and will keep for a year. All deliver fantastic flavor, and there’s not a week that goes by that I don’t use them. We also give bunches away as gifts- and recipients always seem delighted.
Garlic is a kitchen basic, one of those fundamental ingredients that goes into countless dishes. It can become part of the background, making things taste good without asserting its presence. But sometimes, it IS the dish, boldly announcing its pungent presence as in this simple French inspired garlic soup. It’s light enough for a summer supper and even better with a fresh green salad.
There are many different versions of French Garlic Soup. This is what I do. The recipe serves 4. The rule of thumb if you increase the quantity is to use one whole garlic head and one cup stock per person
4 garlic heads, cut in half crosswise with peel left on.
Put a thin layer of olive oil in an ovenproof baking dish and place each half garlic head flat side down in the oil. Roast in a 350 degree oven for about an hour, or until the garlic is soft and golden.
When ready, you’ll be able to lift the peel right off top half of each garlic head. Remove the cloves that remain, loosening them if necessary with a table knife or thin metal spatula. Lift out the bottom halves with the spatula, and separate cloves from skins. Put all the cloves in a large heavy bottomed pot.
Combine the oil remaining in the baking dish with a couple of tablespoons of flour. IF there is no oil left, add a splash to moisten (and use more next time) and then scrape into the pot with the garlic cloves. Mash with a potato ricer and mix well or use a stick blender to puree. When, and only when you have mixed it into a thick smooth paste, brown for a minute over medium heat, stirring often.
Add 1 quart warm chicken stock, a little at a time, stirring after each additon. Flavor with herbs- fresh thyme is nice, dried tarragon works well too- and simmer over low heat for about 20 minutes- uncovered, if your soup seems to thin, to reduce. Salt and pepper to taste. Add a splash of cream to finish and a pinch of fresh chopped parsley.
Journalist and author Laura Taxel started writing about local food before it became a trend, a movement or a scene. And she still hasn’t run out of stories to tell or wonderful things to cook and eat that are grown and produced in Northeast Ohio. We’re delighted that she’s agreed share her enthusiasms and her discoveries with a monthly blog here at EdibleCleveland.com.