Luckily I was quite successful in my undertaking: in and out of the store within half an hour, did not wait in long in line, got everything on my list. Also, I managed to find something I didn't know I was looking for, and in fact did not know existed.
The first item on my list was ten to twelve heads of garlic, for soup. And upon looking for garlic, I found nestled among the onions by the pound, bags of smoked garlic, on the stalk, woven together into something actually quite beautiful. As soon as I picked one up I was hit with the strong smoky smell.
|Too bad I didn't take a picture before decimating the pretty braid|
You can read my original recipe for roasted garlic soup here. This time around I did things a little differently. Since I had so many cloves of garlic to peel and roast, I decided not to peel them at all. I put 10 heads worth of whole cloves unpleeled into a covered casserole dish with some olive oil, into the hot oven (400 degrees) for 45 minutes to an hour, until the cloves inside their peels were soft. I used a combination of smoked garlic and unsmoked for this, about 2 heads of unsmoked, 8 heads smoked, and reserved an additional head of each uncooked, to add later for sharpness.
After the cloves were roasted, I squeezed them out from their peels into a large stock pot. I covered them with 8 cups of water and 3 cups of vegetable stock (I was making this as a starter for 17 people, and wanted to make sure there was enough) and let the liquid simmer for 20 minutes. Next I used my immersion blender to blend together the stock and cooked garlic until smooth. I tasted the mixture and decided it needed more garlic, so i peeled and smashed 6 cloves and added them, allowing them to cook into the mixture for a bit before blending again.
When I had reached my chosen level of garlicyness, I made a roux to thicken the soup, then added paprika (both smokey Spanish and sweet Hungarian varieties) and a bay leaf, some Aleppo pepper, plenty of salt and black pepper, and then started adding in the parmesean cheese. This is best done slowly, adding in a bit at a time to the hot soup, using a whisk to make sure the cheese incorporates. I also added some heavy cream at this point, which made the soup more rich and smooth.
To serve the soup I made parmesan crostinis, slicing some of my favorite Iggy's bread, brushing it with olive oil, and sprinkling with freshly shredded parmesan, before placing it in the broiler for a few minutes to brown and crisp up.
In the end the smokier flavor was quite subtle, the soup was very similar to the first time I made it, but had a bit more depth and interest. Overall I would say it was a hit, I noticed many empty bowls as we cleared away the first course!