garlic soup + rosemary polenta croutons

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It's no secret that there are few ingredients I love more than garlic. 

Last week I was craving garlic, big time.
Cold weather + garlic craving = must make garlic soup asap  

In researching garlic soup recipes, I did not realize how popular it is. There are so many variations in so many of the cookbooks I have. I could not decide on one version, so I decided to try two different methods. One, which is very similar to this version by Heidi was very delicious ...... but this version I'm sharing today, which turned out to be a hybrid of several recipes, was more what I was looking for. Velvety smooth, and just enough of a garlic flavor to satisfy my craving but won't scare my friends away.

This is a quick and easy soup that you can easily make for yourself, or your family, or it would also make a perfect starter for a dinner party. It's done in one pot (if you don't count the croutons) and the most labor-intensive part is peeling the garlic. But don't worry, I googled "how to peel a lot of garlic at once" <--- for you, and found a great shortcut.

Although, if you are weird like me and you actually like the smell of garlic on your hands, then you can do it the old fashioned way, by smashing the cloves one by one. I actually find this kind of prep work therapeutic. 

Just in case you don't love the smell of garlic on your hands, but you do want to peel each and every clove, I also googled "how to get the garlic smell off your hands" <--- for you. (I figured I probably needed this info as well, in case I want to make this soup and then have people over that might not appreciate my garlic hands.)  

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Another thing I learned when reading up on garlic soup, is that it has serious medicinal properties. Just like chicken soup, garlic soup meant to be a cure-all.

Apparently, if you eat this soup, you can rid yourself of a cold, hangover, or just general winter blues ... but I will only guarantee the winter blues part. I am certain this soup will pull you out of any cold weather gloom.

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I thought of calling this recipe: 40 cloves of garlic soup, because you actually use about 40 cloves of garlic. It is the main ingredient and it certainly does shine through, but you'll see I added in a few other goodies to balance out the flavors and give it a little depth.

The reduced wine in this soup really adds a whole other special layer of flavor, but if for some reason you do not want use wine in this soup, then you could certainly substitute with mirin (an asian rice cooking wine) or vegetable broth. Mirin will give you a slightly sweeter outcome, and the broth slightly more savory. The croutons are optional as well if you want to keep this simple. The croutons are there to make it more fancy and filling, but this soup certainly has the ability to stand on it's own. 

 

garlic soup with rosemary polenta croutons

SEVERS
2 as a main, 4 as an appetizer

INGREDIENTS

for the polenta croutons:
1 cup of quick cooking organic polenta
3 cups of water
1/4 teaspoon of salt
freshly cracked black pepper
2 sprigs of rosemary, leaves removed and minced
a couple of tablespoons of olive oil

for the garlic soup:
a couple tablespoons of olive oil
3 heads of garlic, about 40 cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
1 shallot (about 2 tablespoons), diced
1/2 cup of celery root, diced
1 cup of white potato, diced
1/2 cup of white wine
6 cups of water
1/2 teaspoon of salt
2 sprigs of thyme

to finish: a squeeze of lemon juice, freshly cracked black pepper, a pinch of cayenne, some micro greens, toasted sunflower or pumpkin seeds

METHOD

Start by making the croutons (if using):

  • Grease a small baking sheet with olive oil and set aside. 
  • In a small saucepan, bring the water and salt to a boil and slowly pour in the polenta while whisking. Reduce the heat to low and continue whisking for another minute or so, and then turn the heat off. Stir in a few cracks of black pepper and the rosemary. 
  • Spoon the polenta onto the baking sheet and flatten and push the mixture into the corners to form a square or rectangle with about 1/4" thickness. It's okay if it does not fit the entire baking sheet, just try to make it evenly flat across the top. 
  • Refrigerate for a minimum of 2 hours, or until the polenta has firmed up. 

Prepare the soup:

  • In a medium, heavy bottomed pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add in the garlic and shallots and cook for 2-3 minutes until they are clean but not brown. Then, add in the celery root and potato and cook for another 2-3 minutes, but be careful not to brown or burn the garlic (it will change the flavor of the soup and could make it bitter). 
  • Then add in the white wine and reduce until there is only a thin coating is left. This will take several minutes. 
  • Add the water, salt, and thyme, bring to a simmer, then reduce the heat to low and cover. Simmer for 20-30 minutes until the vegetables are soft. 
  • At this point, you can allow the soup to cool for an hour and then transfer it to the fridge overnight, if you like. This will allow the flavors to develop quite a bit. If you want to enjoy the soup right away, that is perfectly fine, just continue on with the steps below.

Finish the polenta croutons:

  • Once the polenta has become firm, cut it into 1x1" squares. 
  • Heat up some olive oil in a cast iron skillet over medium heat, and add the polenta square. Cook for about 5 minutes on each side, remove from the heat and set aside. 

Assemble the soup:

  • Remove the thyme and carefully transfer the soup to a high-powered blender. Blend on high for a minute or two until the soup is silky smooth. Taste, and adjust any seasoning as necessary. You may also want to add in some of the finishing ingredients now such as a squeeze of lemon juice, black pepper, or a pinch of cayenne. 
  • Ladle the soup into bowls and add any toppings you like, including the croutons. Enjoy warm.