I got home just past 6 pm. I wanted something interesting to eat: warm, comforting, not one of my usual staples. I didn't want to go to the grocery store. I looked in the pantry. Not much to speak of besides several heads of garlic. In the refrigerator: ends of a few pieces of cheese, a couple eggs, some spinach I had forgotten about which had gotten wilty and sad. Not that promising. But I kept thinking back to that garlic. I thought of a lovely and sharp soupa di ajo (spanish garlic soup) I had had at a tapas restaurant several years ago. After all this time it still stuck in my mind. I took out 2 heads of garlic and started to peel.
I have glanced over recipes for Sopa Di Ajo before, am familiar with the basic ingredients: several cloves of garlic, water or stock, salt and pepper, paprika, maybe a bay leaf, some old crusty bread. Many recipes involve making a basic garlic soup and serving it hot over a piece of bread with cheese or a cracked egg (in the case of the egg some time in the oven to finish the soup is required).
I improvised this recipe as I went, but this is approximately what i used:
2.5 heads of garlic, I started with about 15 medium cloves which I roasted whole and then crushed, plus 3 large cloves which I added to the soup without roasting first, to keep some sharpness.
3/4 cup freshly shredded Parmesan & Ramano cheese (I used up some of those ends of cheese!)
1 TBS Roux (1 part butter and one part flour, cooked on the stovetop until they form a golden paste)
Sea Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
1 bay leaf
2 tsp paprika
5 cups water
Crusty bread toasted with some additional shredded parmesan cheese on the side. yum.
This made only about 2 full servings of soup, I would definitely suggest doubling it if you are making it for more than 2 people or want leftovers. The process took a little over an hour total.
first I peeled the garlic, and roasted them in the oven with a little bit of olive oil at 375 for about 20 minutes (just wait until they begin to get golden). I used my favorite adorably small cast iron pan for the roasting. Looking at that tiny pan usually makes me squeal. Look how big the garlic cloves look in comparison!
I then placed my roasted garlic cloves in the bottom of a heavy bottomed stainless steel pot, mashed them up a bit with the bottom of a large spoon, added the water and bay leaf, then brought the water to a boil. I added salt, pepper and paprika and then ran through the hot soup quickly with an immersion blender to disperse the garlic.
Next I made my roux (I once again used that adorably small cast iron pan...I use that thing for everything), and stirred it into the soup. I grated the cheese and added it into the soup slowly as it simmered, stirring it in with a whisk. I then crushed and added the 3 large garlic cloves I had remaining, brought the soup back to a boil for a bit, and then ran through it with the immersion blender one more time. The remaining soup was creamy but still somewhat light, just thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. A few tastes and a little more salt and ground pepper later, and I was ready to serve it with toasted Parmesan bread.
|Goodbye assorted ends of cheese!|
The combination of sweetness from the roasted garlic and sharpness from those last few cloves unroasted, plus the subtle earthiness of the paprika and the tiny bit of creaminess from the parmesan and roux was just what I was looking for. With so few ingredients and a simple process, this soup was just what I was looking for. Maybe it is what you are looking for, too?