I’ve worked my way through a stack of garlic soup recipes over the years. Some clipped from magazines or torn from newspapers, others scribbled in shorthand on scraps of paper. It is a delicious realm of soups, and there have been plenty of notable bowls amongst them. To that extent, I thought I’d share the one I’ve turned to most over the past twenty years. It’s rooted in a garlic soup published in Richard Olney’s classic, The French Menu Cookbook.
Garlic Soup: This Version
Creamy and full-bodied without the use of cream, like the Richard Olney version, this garlic soup is made by simmering a dozen or so cloves of garlic in water with a few herbs, then thickening it with a mixture of egg and shredded cheese. The garlic mellows as it simmers and works itself into something round and mild – not at all harsh or aggressive in flavor or fragrance. It’s a restorative soup, one that I make when I want something simple and direct, but with more body than a clear, brothy soup or consommé. I like it on its own. I love it with good bread. Sometimes I pour it over a bowl of hot rice.
Garlic Soup Ingredients
- Garlic: Good garlic is key here. Look for heads that are tight with no discoloration. Press around the outer cloves and move on if you feel any softness or irregularity in the cloves.
- Herbs: This recipe calls for fresh thyme, rosemary, sage, and a bay leaf. The thyme is arguably the most important of the trio. But feel free to experiment with the herb profile if you like.
- Water: Yep, water. Not broth. No bouillon is needed. Just go with water.
- Cheese: The recipe calls for freshly grated Parmesan cheese. I’ve also gone the gruyere route if that’s what I have on hand. Equally delicious.
- Salt and Pepper: Take a minute to get your seasoning right here. It’s such a simple soup, it’s important to get the salt and pepper right. And good, freshly ground black pepper in this soup is a game changer.
- Extra-virgin Olive Oil: Use a good mild tasting olive oil, one that isn’t overly assertive or grassy.
- Cacio e Pepe Garlic Soup: This one is pretty simple, basically go crazy with the freshly ground black pepper. It combines with the Parmesan cheese in the base recipe in classic fashion.
- Immunity Garlic Soup: Add a thumb-sized amount of ginger (grated) to the water along with the garlic, plus 1/2 teaspoon of ground turmeric, and again, lots of black pepper.
- Vegan Garlic Soup: Lee made a comment down in the comments about how he successfully veganized this soup. I’ve since increased the amount of the water in the main recipe (to 6 cups) and would suggest the following based on his note: Follow the garlic soup instructions and add 1/2 cup white rice and one roughly chopped carrot to the water. Remove the sage and bay after the 30 minute simmer. Transfer remaining solids to blender with half the broth. Add 2 to 4 tablespoons of nutritional yeast while blending. Add back to the remaining broth in the pot, add olive oil to taste, stir, and enjoy.