The sky flickers momentarily, illuminating the shadows for just long enough to show you that yes, you are about to step in a rather large puddle. A moat, if you will. When it rains here in the summer, nature spares no expense at creating a scene. Not that I mind, as long as I can seek refuge indoors when the lightning’s at its worst.
In truth, the rain makes running exhilarating, as the heavy air becomes cool — if only for a moment. When I was growing up, it was a thing to long for, to keep our ground moist and our water supplies above disaster levels. Here, it’s taken for granted, and in some parts of the country at the moment, it is feared. For good reason, too. What nourishes the ground one day may wash away carefully planted seeds the next.
What exactly does this have to do with garlic soup? Nothing, unless you happen to find it’s a comforting thing to have in the house on days like these. Especially when your officemates are coming down with colds. This version is adapted from Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume 1 (which I got for a whole $4 — best purchase ever), and if you’ve never had garlic soup, you’re in for a surprise. Think subtle, tasty broth, not garlicky, spicy mess. In fact, if I had to substitute stock with anything, this soup base would be my first choice.
Serve it with a bit of bread toasted in olive oil, and you have a delicious starter. Or add some protein in the form of red kidney beans and a bit of whole wheat pasta, for your own minestrone-like dish. Whatever you do: Don’t skimp on the garlic. I promise, you won’t regret a single clove.
Garlicky vegetable soup
Julia says this soup is good for “the liver, blood circulation, general physical tone, and spiritual health.” Somehow, I don’t doubt her claims; I could swear this one has kept me well more times than I can count. Her original version doesn’t add the vegetables, and calls for egg yolks and olive oil, which I really didn’t enjoy when I tried it last. Vegetables are a much nicer (and lighter) pairing with this aromatic broth. This recipe is based on what I happened to have on hand at the time; as usual, feel free to play.
- 1 head (~16 cloves) peeled garlic
- 2 quarts water
- 2 t. salt
- pinch pepper
- 2 cloves
- 1/4 t. sage
- 1/4 t. thyme
- 1 avocado leaf. Use 1/2 a bay leaf, as the original recipe called for, if you wish. I happened to be out of them, so I substituted the avocado leaf.
- 4 parsley sprigs
- 3 T. olive oil
- Vegetables of your choice — I used 2 parsnips, a couple of carrots, one poblano pepper for some spice, and fennel
Place all the ingredients (except quick-cooking vegetables, if you choose to add them) in the saucepan. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 30 minutes. Add spinach or other quick-cooking vegetables or frozen vegetables, cook for five minutes more, and serve. Easy, right?